INHUMANE COVID RESTRICTIONS
Elderly Woman With Walker Forced to Wait in Her Car in Frigid 9° Weather for Word of Husband's Condition
On the night of January 10 an 86-year-old man went into congestive heart failure. His wife of 63 years called 911. He was taken to a nearby hospital. When his wife showed up, she was promptly told that she was not allowed to be in the waiting room or in the building. She would have to wait in her car. These are common Covid restriction rules. She waited in her car for an hour with no updates. Again she went into the building and requested information about her husband. She was told that the nurse would give her a call and that she must go back to her car. She went back to her car and waited another hour. No updates, no phone call.
She again went inside the building and pleaded with the person at the desk for some sort of information about her husband. She was then led to a room and told that the doctor would come talk to her. Forty minutes later, a physician showed up and declared “he doesn’t have Covid.” The wife, having been a nurse, knew he didn’t have Covid, and that he had suddenly gone into congestive heart failure. The woman demanded to see her husband. She was told by the doctor that she could see him in 10 minutes.
After 45 minutes went by, she went out into the hall and flagged someone down and told them that she had been waiting for several hours without seeing her husband. This person finally helped and the woman was reunited with her husband shortly thereafter. By then he was in the Critical Care Unit, on a ventilator, and in very bad shape. She never had the opportunity to advocate for him as his designated patient advocate. They never asked what his code status was or about any advance directive.
As a medical community (and I have been an acute care RN in a hospital for 37 years), how have we gotten to a place where we can send an 86-year-old woman with a walker out of the building repeatedly, in the middle of the night, unescorted, on the edge of Detroit, in 9° weather, to wait in her car??? I have never been so ashamed of being in the healthcare profession as I am now.
The man who the University of Michigan doctor said was “86 years old and would have little quality of life” was my father. He died 36 hours later. In his last hours of life, we had to fight visitor restrictions to be able to be with him. We are doing more damage with restrictions than the virus has done.