How do I get help ?, A dying patient with coronavirus asked Alexa

They lived about 20 minutes away in Michigan, but when cousins ​​gave sisters Lou Ann Dagen and Penny Dagen an Amazon Echo Show last year to make video calls, they kept company for hours on end.

Virtual assistant Alexa hooked them up during meals and discussions about what was on TV.

I think she just wanted to know that I was there, said Penny Dagen, 74, about her sister, who lived in a nursing home.

And when Lou Ann Dagen, 66, became seriously ill with the coronavirus disease COVID-19, she turned to Alexa once again, Penny Dagen said in an interview Thursday.

Penny Dagen discovered voice recordings of her sister pleading with Alexa to intervene as her health worsened. She said she found the tapes Monday, two days after Lou Ann Dagen died of complications from the virus.

‘How do I get help? Asked his sister on the recording. ‘How do I get to the police?

Lou Ann Dagen was one of six residents of the nursing home, Metron of Cedar Springs, who died after being affected by the virus, a spokesman for the center confirmed. Thirty-one residents and five staff members at the nursing home, which is about 20 kilometers north of Grand Rapids, Michigan, have tested positive for the virus, according to the nursing home.

I was surprised how much he had cried for help there, Penny Dagen said. It hurt a lot.

Dagen said that she and her sister were aware of the limitations of Alexa, the ubiquitous voice-activated assistant.

He won't call 911, he said. Alexa will not do that.

Amazon officials noted that smart devices like the Echo Show are not intended to replace life safety services and cannot communicate with emergency services.

We were saddened to hear this news, and our hearts go out to the family, a company spokeswoman said Thursday night in a statement. “Today, customers can ask Alexa to call family or friends, or set up skills like Ask My Buddy, which allows you to alert someone in your Personal Alert Network that they need to be watched. We continue to create more features to help our customers.

Dagen said his sister had diabetes and high blood pressure, which also contributed to her death. He lived in the nursing home for about 10 years after suffering two strokes that caused paralysis on the left side of his body, Dagen added. Her oxygen levels plummeted due to the virus, which she contracted several weeks ago, said Dagen, who lives in Sparta, Michigan.

It was as if she couldn't breathe, she said of her sister, who died Saturday at Mercy Health St. Mary's in Grand Rapids, shortly after being hospitalized.

An executive from a nursing home said the center took appropriate measures and that Lou Ann Dagen's condition rapidly deteriorated.

We can share that Lou Ann was receiving excellent care and that our team was following her advance directives and clinical practice guidelines for managing her pain and symptoms, said Paul Pruitt, director of nursing home operations, in a statement. Once those symptoms progressed rapidly, and on the advice of her medical team, she was immediately sent to the hospital.

Pruitt said the nursing home encouraged the sisters' regular video calls.

Alexa was Lou Ann's primary communication tool with her sister, who was unable to reach our facilities, she said. It was a very positive part of his life, which we fully support.

Penny Dagen described her sister, who never married, as multi-talented, and said she played the organ, piano, and guitar. She also sang and was an artist who wrote a children's book, Dagen said.

More about Covid-19


The last time he spoke to his sister was on a video call on Saturday morning before going to the hospital, Dagen said. He added that he had the recordings of his sister asking Alexa for help on his iPad, but that he did not plan to keep them.

I don't want to keep that memory of her, he said. “I just wish they could have taken the pain away. He no longer has any pain.