‘So easily avoided’: Rainham woman dies of heart attack after refusing medical attention due to coronavirus fear

Joanne Mills and Daniel Beal, partners of 21 years. Picture: Daniel Beal

Joanne Mills and Daniel Beal, partners of 21 years. Picture: Daniel Beal - Credit: Daniel Beal

“Like a sledgehammer, it’s smashed our world,” says a Rainham dad-of-two who says his partner of 21 years died because she was afraid to go to hospital during the pandemic.

Joanne Mills, who was 44 and mother of two teenage children, started feeling pains in her abdomen earlier this month. Partner Daniel Beal remembers her saying that a GP wouldn’t see her face to face, and if she did need medical care, she’d be sent to hospital.

For Joanne, going to hospital with the pandemic still raging was not an option.

“With all of the scares from the government, she was terrified. I think she knew she may have had heart problems but didn’t tell me because she knows I would have dragged her down to the hospital kicking and screaming,” said Daniel.

An ambulance was eventually called. Daniel said: “I could see the sheer look of panic in her face when she got into the ambulance. She said: ‘Make sure the children read my messages’.”

Her deep fear of hospitals stemmed from losing a close friend in 2018 who reportedly went in for something minor and but ended up “dying of an extreme bug,” says Daniel.

Joanne also suffered from PTSD, anxiety and depression which began after a serious car accident.

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Her father shared her dread of hospitals, exacerbated by the pandemic, and he died of a heart attack in May, after refusing to be seen when it appeared he had a problem with his pacemaker.

“Weigh up the odds, don’t be too afraid,” Daniel urges. “Coronavirus isn’t the be-all and end-all - heart problems, cancer - they are all so much more serious and it’s not worth it.”

Since the pandemic began, he says he’s been watching residents where he lives on the Orchard Village estate “fall apart” over the crisis – “people who never before had had an issue”.

To make matters worse for the family, Daniel was made redundant from his job as an IT engineer on October 1. Devastated by the financial impact as well as losing Joanne, the family are raising funds for funeral costs.

He said: “It has left my family in a financial situation that we would have never dreamt of preparing for at this stage of our lives.

“I know we are all suffering at this terrible time but please if you can help just a little bit, make a donation instead of sending flowers my family really need your help and we would really appreciate it.”

In a recent study, the University of Oxford found that about 5,000 heart attack sufferers in England missed out on lifesaving hospital treatment due to the pandemic and the number of hospital admissions for heart attacks fell by 35 per cent by the end of March.

Admissions with heart attacks caused by a complete blockage of an artery to part of the heart, such as the one Joanne suffered, fell by nearly a quarter (23pc).

People with this sort of heart attack are at the highest risk of suffering a cardiac arrest and usually need an urgent procedure (a percutaneous coronary intervention, or PCI) to open the blocked artery to the heart, along with medications.

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