Mich. woman with coronavirus asked Amazon’s Alexa for help with pain 40 times in days before her death

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (WOOD/CNN) - In the days leading up to her death from COVID-19, a 66-year-old woman at a Michigan nursing home repeatedly asked the Alexa assistant on her Amazon device for help dealing with the pain.

In her final days, 66-year-old LouAnn Dagen’s only connection to her sister, Penny Dagen, came through an Amazon Echo Show in her room at the Metron nursing home in Cedar Springs, Michigan. LouAnn Dagen died Saturday after testing positive for coronavirus.

LouAnn Dagen, 66, died after she tested positive for COVID-19. Her sister remembers her as a talented woman, who played piano, organ and guitar.
LouAnn Dagen, 66, died after she tested positive for COVID-19. Her sister remembers her as a talented woman, who played piano, organ and guitar. (Source: Penny Dagen/WOOD/CNN)

It wasn’t until after her sister’s death that Penny Dagen realized the Amazon device had recorded 40 pleas for help over her last three or four days of life.

"Oh, Alexa, I'm going to hurt," said LouAnn Dagen in some of the recordings. "Alexa, help me. I am in pain. I have to find a way to relieve it."

At one point, the 66-year-old asked for law enforcement.

Penny Dagen says she knew her sister was in pain because she talked to her several times a day. She also says Metron was already giving her something for the pain.

“I just kept telling her there wasn’t anything I could do,” Penny Dagen said. “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you more. I’d take your pain away. But she’s up in heaven now, so she’s pain-free. She’s walking, and she’s with my mom and my dad."

Prior to her death, LouAnn Dagen, who had long struggled with diabetes and hypertension, had been having a hard time breathing as a result of COVID-19, but Metron says she didn’t have a temperature. She had a stroke nearly a decade ago and had been at the facility since then.

It wasn’t until her oxygen levels and blood pressure dropped Saturday morning that she was sent to Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids, where she died shortly after arrival.

"They asked me about giving her CPR, if her heart stopped, and I said, ‘No. She didn't want that.’ And her heart stopped, and that was it," Penny Dagen said.

Penny Dagen says she wishes she could have been with her sister at the end. She remembers her as a talented woman, who played piano, organ and guitar.

Metron says its staff followed clinical practice guidelines and LouAnn Dagen’s advanced directives to manage her pain. The nursing home insists it sent her to the hospital as soon as her symptoms progressed.

LouAnn Dagen was the first resident of Metron to die from COVID-19. She was one of 31 residents and five staff members who had tested positive for the virus. Two residents, 81-year-old Anna Russell and 96-year-old Maxine Pifer, died in the days following LouAnn Dagen’s death.

On Wednesday, Kent County, where Metron is located, was reporting 207 cases of coronavirus with eight deaths. The state of Michigan was reporting 20,346 cases with 959 deaths.

Copyright 2020 WOOD, Penny Dagen via CNN. All rights reserved.