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PATIENT FORCED TO GO ON VENTILATOR AFTER HAVING A PANIC ATTACK
Man Loses 47 Pounds in 15 Days on Hospital “Covid Protocol”
On July 4, 2021, I took my husband, Jeff Smith, to Mease Countryside Hospital to get a chest X‑ray. He was on day 10 of having Covid. I wanted to make sure everything was okay because I didn’t think he was breathing as deeply as I thought he should. We both had it and I was over it by this point. We did not get that sick, and he was still working from home. He didn’t want to go but I insisted (something I now regret). He walked in on his own, was not struggling and we felt he would be in and out. They told me to come back in two hours to pick him up because of covid protocol. I could not wait there. Thirty minutes later he called me and said they wanted to keep him overnight to give him some oxygen.
By midnight they called and said they were taking him to the Intensive Care Unit for more individual care. Nothing to worry about! A doctor called and asked me why we didn’t get vaccinated. I told her because it’s experimental, they didn’t have any studies on it and we were going to wait to see. Jeff was a healthy 61-year-old man, no medications, and no health issues. As a matter of fact, we had just had our yearly check-ups. Our Primary Care Physician said we were the healthy couple of his practice and that he should put our picture on the wall! We took really good care of ourselves with diet and exercise. Jeff was walking 3-6 miles a day on average.
Once he was admitted I could not see him. But we talked every day and texted throughout the day until things got bad. He was still taking work calls the first few days. A few days in, one nurse (a traveling nurse) called me crying and told me that Jeff was upset because the doctor was talking to him about the ventilator. He told the doctor that he would not go on the ventilator and that his wife wouldn’t like it. The doctor told him, “Well, she will like it or you’re going to die.” Jeff said, “Then send me home right now and let me die at home with my wife.”
I told the nurse that I needed to see my husband. She told me to come and she would get me in. So that’s what I did and she snuck me in. He was crying and so upset. I was able to calm him down and stayed for about an hour and a half. I reassured him that he was going to be okay, and I believed he was going to be okay - because I trusted the doctors and nurses were there to help him. Why would I ever think anything different?
I called the hospital every day, morning and night, to get reports on him. I requested that the doctor call me with an update and what the plan was for his care. When I talked to Jeff, I wanted it to be all positive and not all questions. Some of the doctors would talk down to me and be very short. They would just tell me something to get me off the phone and they were always in a hurry. Some were gloom and doom saying he was going to be there for weeks. One told me he gave Jeff a 2% chance to survive if he went on the ventilator. I was able to get on Jeff’s patient portal after the first couple days so I could keep better track on who was seeing him and what they were doing.
Also, I printed all of the progress reports every day so I could make notes on them and write my questions to ask. I did request a meeting with the team of doctors treating him to go over the situation and what the plan of care was. They refused. After a while, Jeff was struggling and I knew he needed me. I tried to get in again and was refused. So, I requested the Administrator to come speak with me and she did. I finally convinced her to let me see him for 15 minutes.
It was so hard to go see him struggling and getting worse but we remained positive. He was fighting like hell to get better. He said he was fighting hard because he had a lot of life to live and he had his grandchildren to live for. He was such a good grandpa and he loved being a grandpa. We finally got a baby girl in the family after waiting 64 years so she was his special girl! I pleaded all the time to let me come in because Jeff needed me by his side. He was so isolated and not being taken care of properly. I was able to see him again for 15 minutes. After this visit, they told me in two more days I could start coming in daily because it was past their 20-day Covid protocol restriction. We were so happy.
That was Thursday, July 22. He was in rough shape but he was still fighting. His muscles were total mush at this point because he had not been out of bed for 19 days and not being fed on a regular base, although he was given Ensure from time to time. He lost 47 pounds in 15 days. When I left after the 15-minute visit, I said I would be back as soon as visiting hours opened on Sunday. And I would stay until they kicked me out at the end of the night. I called and checked on him with the nurse at 10:00 pm and she said he had a little ice cream (which surprised me - not sure if that was true or not) and he was resting watching TV.
At 10:35 pm the hospital called me in a rush and panic and told me they were putting him on the ventilator because he had a panic attack. I was shocked and wasn’t given a minute to think about this, but they said only for three days to let his body rest. They asked me if I wanted to FaceTime with him quickly and I said, “Yes.” We got about 20 seconds, enough time to tell each other we loved each other … our last “I Love You”!!! I will never forget how scared his eyes looked. But I told him everything would be okay. I believed that and I never thought Jeff was going to die.
So, for the next 20 days, it was a mess. They were doing all kinds of things to him and telling me a lot of different things. Eventually telling me they were doing everything but he was getting worse. Then the next day things were better. So, the doctors and nurses were all over the place. I FaceTimed with him every night even though he was in a coma and paralyzed on the ventilator. I believed he could hear me so I wanted him to hear my voice every day. I still was not able to go see him; they told me I would be in the way.
On August 11, the doctor called me in the morning and told me that Jeff was going to code out today. I was in shock and insisted that they let me come in. They agreed so my son and I went up there and it was horrific to see him like that. They were only going to let me look at him through the glass. I told them they needed to figure it out because I was going in to be with my husband. They agreed to let me in for a minute or two. So I got to hold my husband and tell him I love him and how sorry I was that this happened to him. Then when I came out, they started to pressure me to put a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) on him. I told him my sons and I needed to talk about this.
So, we did and decided that we would not put a DNR on him and that this was between Jeff and God. I called and told them that and told them they should do everything to save him at all cost. They screamed and yelled at me on the phone and said that I was going to make them break his ribs and hurt him, all because this was between God and Jeff. It was awful how they treated me as my husband lay there dying.
They called us a little while later to tell us he died. The worst day of my life. I never imagined that taking my healthy husband into the hospital Emergency Room to get a simple chest X-ray that he would end up dying. I now know what they did and why they did it. I vow to be my husband’s voice and fight for justice if it takes me to my last breath. I loved my husband, Jeff Smith, and he will not have died in vain.
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