Becoming a nurse was a dream come true for William Coddington.
His best friend Robert Marks says it came naturally to the 32-year-old.
"He was just always there for a laugh and support.
So the nursing thing was just a natural extension of his personality." Friends and family say Coddington had battled opioid addiction but was committed to recovery, and relished his job at a West Palm Beach, Florida hospital.
But that began to unravel in March, as COVID-19 patients showed up in Coddington's intensive care unit.
His father - Ronald Coddington - says the ICU was no longer a reaffirming place.
"The COVID ward became the war zone.
And that changed him.
One of the things I can tell William was in a sense haunted by was his concern about the death rate.
As a nurse wanting to help people, I think they all feel a sense of defeat when someone dies, especially if someone's not ready to die or not terminal." On April 25, Coddington was found dead in his car in a hotel parking lot.
His family suspects a drug overdose.
"Probably one of the hardest things right now as a father is looking back and realizing that the last couple of times I saw William, he'd call me from the front yard, and he'd stand out by the sidewalk and said, 'I'm not coming close, but I want to say hi.'" As COVID-19 patients inundate hospitals across the U.S., healthcare workers are trying to cope with the psychological trauma of treating desperately ill patients.
Psychiatrists told Reuters that those with histories of substance abuse may have more difficulty coping with fear and witnessing so much death during the pandemic.
In messages with his son the month he passed away - Coddington's father wrote "You are so needed right now by others.
You can be great." The two then exchanged I love you's.
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