Published: 06:00, 18 November 2020
| Updated: 18:48, 18 November 2020
The widow of a man who caught and died of Covid-19 in hospital after being admitted to a hot ward when he did not have the virus says she's devastated at how things went so wrong for her family.
Sam Tucker's husband, Paul, died aged 57 in the early hours of last Thursday morning from the virus after spending three weeks at Medway Maritime Hospital.
Watch KMTV's interview with Mrs Tucker
Mrs Tucker, from Parkwood in Gillingham, has criticised infection control procedures at the hospital which allowed her at risk paralysed husband to catch the deadly virus.
He was taken to Medway hospital on October 22 by ambulance with a suspected urinary tract infection caused by complications with his catheter after he fell ill at home.
Dad-of-two Paul was placed on the Tennyson ward, which is designated as one of the hospital's hot wards to treat Covid patients, despite not having a positive coronavirus test result.
Mrs Tucker says hospital staff decided he needed to remain on the hot ward as he had been at risk of exposure.
He was later moved to Wakeley ward - a "cold" ward - after a negative Covid test came back. Mrs Tucker says the ward was busy and included many elderly patients.
She was able to visit her husband at the end of October in Wakeley ward as it was before restrictions had been placed on visiting relatives. It was the last time she would see her husband.
Paul then tested positive for coronavirus despite having been on the cold ward and he was moved to a private room on the ward.
Mrs Tucker says she was shocked to find out the same nurses were treating him as the rest of the ward and they had limited PPE (personal protective equipment) compared to full body suits worn by staff in intensive care.
But when she raised her concerns with the hospital and PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) she says she was never contacted back for an explanation.
"I can’t get my head around why it was allowed to go so wrong," she said.
"Wards are mixed with unsuspecting negative patients. They don’t know their lives are being put at risk. Their families and loved ones are totally unaware that no one is safe in there. It is a disaster."
'I'm 45 and never thought I would have lost my husband. I'm gutted for the kids...'
Paul developed discitis - an infection of the spine - in January 2019 which ultimately led to him becoming paralysed from the waist down. The family has instructed lawyers to look into concerns with his treatment at Medway hospital at the time which they claim caused his paralysis.
He was on a catheter and bedbound for more than 18 months and had regular carers who Mrs Tucker says were extremely careful not to put him at risk of the virus.
Mrs Tucker says she's speaking about what happened to her husband so "people are aware of what's going on as it will be someone else's partner, husband or relative".
He leaves his wife and two children - Jack, 21, and Mia, 17.
Mrs Tucker said: "Paul was scared to go in there and I've got to live with the fact that I sent him there and made the call.
"He would have been better off trying his chance with sepsis at home.
"I'm 45 and never thought I would have lost my husband. I'm gutted for the kids. Paul was a doting father.
"I just knew something bad was going to happen.
"He would have been alive because they're telling me it was Covid that killed him. If he hadn't been paralysed he wouldn't have been in hospital and got Covid. He never stood a chance."
Paul continued his fight against Covid during the first week of November but was taken to an intensive care bed on November 10.
"They told me the first 24-hours were critical and he got through that," Mrs Tucker said. "I had two or three Skype calls with him but I don't think he knew I was there.
"But then they called me and said he was going to die and they were just trying to make him comfortable.
Sam has now accused the hospital of lacking remorse for her husband's death.
"He's just another number, another person that died. That's what it felt like, that's how they made me feel," she said.
"This is people's lives they're playing with. Why are better procedures not put in place? You can't mix patients and lie to people.
"It's too rushed and they're not protecting the normal nurses in there.
"They don't know if they're dealing with someone positive, contagious or getting over it.
"They shouldn't be sending people on those wards. That's why so many people are contracting it and losing their lives.
'He was funny and a larger than life bloke...'
"There may be some parts of the hospital that treat people really well. My mum had breast cancer and I can't fault them but every time Paul has been taken in there have been massive failings and it can't carry on down there.
"Infection control is not what it should be and they're not keeping people safe or aware."
Before his paralysis, Paul volunteered for 13 years in local football in Medway.
He was a passionate West Ham fan and started out helping with sessions when Jack was seven at Rainham Kenilworth Youth FC before joining Omega 92 FC.
Paul coached his son's age groups all the way through the junior section and later became the men's team coach and club chairman.
"He was funny and a larger than life bloke," Mrs Tucker said. "He was really well liked and put himself out for people and always helping others.
"He was a big bloke but that didn't stop him out on the football pitch."
The couple met at The Avenue club, where he was working as a doorman, and recalls "he kept coming over and asked me out".
Within months the couple moved in together and got married in 1998 before starting their family a year later.
James Devine, chief executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Tucker’s family and we urge his family to contact us with any concerns about his care, so that we can help any questions or concerns they may have.
“Our absolute priority is to keep staff, patients and the public safe at all times, and we have strict processes and infection prevention and control measures in place to help stop the spread of infection.”