SPOKANE, Wash. — Gene Packmore of Davenport was a musician, family man and U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War.
“He touched a lot of people’s lives, and he was a good father and a good grandfather and a friend to all. He had a heart of gold and he would always be there if you needed him to help or to work on something," said his partner, Alice Roseborough.
Roseborough and her family are now grieving the loss of Packmore after he spent several weeks at a Spokane hospital battling COVID-19.
Packmore was likely infected with coronavirus at the beginning of September, a nurse told him, and he later tested positive for the virus on Sept. 14. During his battle with COVID-19, he suffered from what Roseborough described as a "horrible dry cough."
He eventually drove himself to the hospital in Davenport on Sept. 23 when he had trouble breathing. When he arrived there, his oxygen saturation level was at 38 percent, Roseborough said. According to the Mayo Clinic, values under 90% are considered low.
Packmore was airlifted to Holy Family Hospital in Spokane and then intubated for the first out of two times on Sept. 26, Roseborough said.
“He couldn’t move his head, he couldn’t blink his eyes. He couldn’t move his fingers. He couldn’t move his hands at all. There was no movement…he was just laying there," she said while describing his time in the hospital.
Roseborough and her family were unable to visit Packmore in the hospital to say goodbye due to coronavirus restrictions. But he did document his battle with the virus and tell his family members that he loved them in two videos that have since been posted to the YouTube page of Amber Roseborough, Alice's daughter.
“I’m struggling the best I can and doing what they’re telling me to do," Packmore says in a two-minute video that he captured while lying in his hospital bed. "But of course they’re over-demanding because they want to save me, but I don’t know if they realize just how difficult it is to follow their instructions when you feel like dog poop.”
The video was taken on Oct. 7, just before Packmore's second intubation. He passed away from his battle with coronavirus just one week later on Oct. 14 after three weeks in the hospital, his family said.
His blood pressure dropped dramatically during his stay in the hospital and he was on continual dialysis as his kidneys began to shut down, Roseborough said.
Packmore did not have underlying health conditions apart from an irregular heart rate that didn't affect him much, Roseborough said. His family is unsure how he contracted the virus, but he had expressed concerns to his partner about visits to Safeway where people were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
During her interview with KREM, Roseborough stressed the importance of wearing a mask to combat the spread of COVID-19 and said Packmore did the same.
“If you don’t want to wear a mask because you can’t breathe, then think of if you can’t breathe at all. You’re better off to wear a mask than to lose your air completely," Roseborough said.
A GoFundMe campaign is in place to help Packmore's family with funds for his memorial and funeral expenses.