Two of the healthcare workers have reportedly died, while a third is in critical condition

By Rachel DeSantis
May 05, 2020 01:01 PM
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Nurse at a Moscow hospital
| Credit: Sergei Karpukhin/TASS via Getty

Three healthcare workers in Russia who expressed concerns over the government’s handling of coronavirus have fallen from windows in recent weeks, leaving two dead and one in critical condition, according to multiple local reports.

The plunges have all come as the workers voiced their concerns over a lack of personal protective equipment, or over having to continue working despite testing positive for coronavirus, The New York Times reported.

Ambulance medic Aleksandr Shulepov reportedly fell from a hospital window on Saturday while seeking treatment for coronavirus, and is in critical condition with a fractured skull.

He and a colleague had recently shared a video online in which they complained about a lack of PPE, and in which Shulepov said he was forced to continue working despite testing positive, the Times reported, citing local outlet Vesti Voronezh.

Colleague Alexander Kosyakin appeared in the video with him, and told CNN that Shulepov seemed fine when they last spoke on April 30.

“He felt fine, he was getting ready to get discharged from the hospital,” he said. “And all of a sudden this happened. It’s not clear why and what for, so many questions that I don’t even have the answer to.”

Medical workers wear PPE at a Moscow hospital
| Credit: Artyom Geodakyan/TASS via Getty

According to Vesti Voronezh, Shulepov had backtracked on the claims in his video after he was warned by police that he faced possible criminal charges for spreading false information.

CNN reported that Shulepov recorded a new video in which he recanted his initial complaints, and said he’d been “overwhelmed by emotions” during filming.

Meanwhile, in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, doctor Elena Nepomnyashchaya fell from a window on April 26, and died six days later, the Times reported, citing local news outlet TBK.

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Nepomnyashchaya, who was the chief doctor at a hospital, fell from a fifth-floor window shortly after ending a phone call with the head of the regional Ministry of Health, according to TBK.

She had reportedly objected to regional authorities’ plans to treat coronavirus patients at her hospital, and also voiced concerns over a lack of PPE.

According to CNN, the Health Ministry’s regional health department denied a lack of supplies, and said Nepomnyashchaya’s hospital was in “reserve” for patients, and that staffers were trained and equipped.

Both falls came after that of Natalya Lebedeva, head of the ambulance service at the Russian cosmonaut training center Star City, the Times reported.

She was reportedly being treated for coronavirus at a hospital, and died on April 24 after falling from a window.

Authorities reportedly called her death an accident, while newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets said Lebedeva had died by suicide after she was accused by managers of letting the virus spread within the space program.

CNN reported that the Federal Biomedical Agency’s hospital where she was being treated called her death “a tragic accident,” and praised her as a “true professional” who saved lives each and every day.

Though the cause of the falls remain unclear, the Times noted that “Russian dissidents have long attributed mysterious falls from balconies and other apparent accidents to state violence.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been at least 155,370 cases and 1,451 deaths attributed to coronavirus in Russia, according to the Times.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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