Warwick man pushes lawmakers to fund new drugs to fight antibiotic-resistant drugs

PROVIDENCE – Eric Molloy was shocked at his mother’s sudden death. He remembers the date – Nov. 12, 2018 – and describes each day of her short illness in detail.

His mother, Betty Petrosinelli, 75, had what seemed like a common cold for several days, until she began experiencing diarrhea. She had the symptoms for about three days but dismissed Molloy’s suggestion that she seek medical treatment. By the fourth day, Petrosinelli was weak, unsteady and unable to urinate.

She was rushed to Rhode Island Hospital, where doctors told Molloy that they suspected a C. difficile infection.

The diagnosis was a surprise because Petrosinelli was healthy, lived independently and hadn’t been recently hospitalized.

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Admitted to the intensive care unit, Petrosinelli responded well to a course of antibiotics for about two days before she lapsed back into shock. On the fifth day of her hospitalization, she died of septic shock brought on by a C. difficile infection.

Her death spurred Molloy, 41, of Warwick, to travel to Capitol Hill last year with the Peggy Lillis Foundation to meet with lawmakers to spread awareness about the condition, which can be antibiotic-resistant.

This year, he’s collaborating with the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stand up to Superbug Initiative. He was one of more than 40 people who traveled last week to Washington, D.C., to share their experiences with antibiotic-resistant conditions.

Ultimately, Molloy said, he is advocating for funding to formulate new antibiotics, and to support research and development.

He expected to participate in 12 separate meetings with lawmakers during the trip.

“I’m hoping to find some purpose … I want to find some solace,” he said of dealing with his mother’s death.