Alex Bass, a physician assistant who worked at Coney Island Hospital for 22 years, died on April 10 from coronavirus-related complications. He was 52.
A beloved family man and respected healthcare worker, Bass moved from his home in Ukraine to Brooklyn in 1993. He attended Hunter College as an undergraduate and received his medical training from Touro College before working in the urology department at Coney Island Hospital, where his sense of humor and generosity won over coworkers and patients.
“If you ever called Coney Island Hospital and asked for Alex Bass, everyone knew who he was,” said Bass’ close friend, Lenny Gets. “He was a 100-percent positive person.“
Bass, who lived in Staten Island with his wife and two children, first began to feel ill in late March. Once his fever rose, Bass visited a doctor in Staten Island, a close friend of his, who rushed him to a nearby hospital.
Bass’ condition initially worsened and he was placed on a ventilator, Gets said. But after two weeks, his symptoms appeared to improve.
“He didn’t have a fever for three or four days,” Gets said. “Then it was rapid decline.”
Bass died shortly after. He didn’t have any pre-existing conditions, his friends said.
Bass is one of more than 9,000 healthcare workers around the country who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and one of the hundreds who has died from the virus. While no one knows exactly how Bass contracted the virus, coworkers assume he caught it from a patient at Coney Island Hospital — and suspect that the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the facility could have played a role in the virus’ transmission.
“My assumption is that it was directly related to bad PPE policy,” said one coworker who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “If you come into the ER, it’s in the air.”
Bass is survived by his wife of 20 years, his 19-year-old daughter, and his 17-year-old son — none of whom were allowed to visit him after his admission to the hospital.
Bass’ loved ones remember him as a reliable confidant who brought warmth to his friends’ and family’s lives.
“He had this amazing, open, cheerful personality,” said Alex Beylinson, Bass’ close friend who sent him to the hospital. “He was always laughing and smiling and had a million jokes to tell … Everyone loved him.“
Gets noted Bass’ generous spirit, and recalled a time the physician assistant went out of his way to look after Gets’ sick relative.
“My wife’s uncle who lives in New Jersey, he was visiting someone in Brooklyn. He was unconscious and he was sent to Staten Island Hospital,” he said. “I called Alex, and he came in his free time.”
Multiple online fundraisers have been set up to raise money for Bass’ family after his death. Within hours, they had raised tens of thousands of dollars, Beylinson said.
“In one day they collected $50,000,” he said. “There were hundred and hundreds of people that knew him, and that speaks volumes.”
All three fundraisers have raised more than $74,000 dollars as of April 20.