Heartbreaking: An Elderly Couple Separated in Hospice Due to COVID

 

The way the government, health facilities, and others are making life-altering decisions for others is something that we will have to live with and regret for years to come.

My Aunt Jean and Uncle Bill moved into a Continuing Care Retirement Community about 19-years-ago. Many of you probably know that is a community where people live independently, but which has a Health Center which is used for after-surgery care, serious illnesses and for end-of-life care.

They gave up their apartment on December 19th because they could no longer live independently. Jean is 91 and Bill is 89. Bill was put on hospice a week ago because he has Stage 4 kidney cancer and congestive heart failure. Jean has congestive heart failure, several other problems, and some mildish dementia (mostly short-term memory-related.) They are (or I should say were) sharing a room.

During a routine COVID test two days ago, Jean tested positive for COVID. She was – and still is – asymptomatic, and because of that, they did the test twice just to be certain. Of course, this means she contracted COVID in the Health Center since they have been there for over a month. She is now in a 14-day quarantine in their room and Bill was moved to an isolation room for 21 days to be watched in case he develops symptoms.

They are extremely unhappy about being separated after 70 years together. The nurses are making sure they get to talk to each other on the phone. But our biggest concern is that it is very likely that Bill doesn’t have 20 days left due to his health situation. The facility is adamant that they cannot be together.

My cousin said that all we can do is pray. I told my cousin that we should probably pray that Bill does test positive. That way they could be together and he would not have to die alone in an isolation room.

It is just so hard for me to accept that people cannot use simple common sense in making such vital decisions.

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There are 21 comments.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    So sorry, EB. Prayers for all of you.

    • #1
  2. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    EB: It is just so hard for me to accept that people cannot use simple common sense in making such vital decisions.

    Free people can use common sense concerting their private lives. That’s what we do.

    When the idea of statism is accepted by a people, there are consequences. Decisions concerning the private lives of common people are not made by them. They are made for them by the authorities. That is why your Aunt and Uncle are suffering in this way.

    If you don’t want our grandchildren to live under this kind of stupidity, then work to exterminate statism, the idea that caused it. Ideas have consequences, therefore consequences can’t be changed without changing the ideas that caused them.

     

     

    • #2
  3. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

     Health care is more and more an adversarial process. 

    • #3
  4. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Take them out of the facility, tomorrow.

    • #4
  5. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Take them out of the facility, tomorrow.

    Unfortunately, not an option.

    • #5
  6. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Take them out of the facility, tomorrow.

    What about home hospice? Is that an option?

    • #6
  7. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    Tragic, and we claim to care about the elderly and the ill. We do not. 

    • #7
  8. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    I am so sorry. What a heartbreaking situation, and what inhumane and absolutely senseless treatment. And people wonder why sick people aren’t seeking treatment for their own illnesses out of fear that they’ll be isolated from those they love because of one or another stupid COVID rules. (I worked in health care institutions for decades, and I support all reasonable infection control protocols, but this example disgraces all who are complicit in it.)

    Your family is in my prayers.

    • #8
  9. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    It’s hard to conceive about how we can have “Do Not Resuscitate” protocols and isolation of very senior and terminally ill patients from sick loved-ones in the same system. Is no one thinking at all? There should be some choice and acceptance of risk. But that doesn’t seem to be a feature of COVID policies.

    • #9
  10. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    I have had family and friends encounter the same type of insanity – separating spouses with no real world logic for the separation. 

    From what does anyone think they are protecting Bill by separating him from Jean? As @rodin notes above, Bill should have say-so in the risks he is willing to take.

    My wife’s parents were kept apart during separate hospitalizations because Dad tested positive for Covid (before testing negative the subsequent two days). Finally, Dad convinced the hospital to release both of them so they could just go home and die together in peace. [He died two days later, though Mom is still holding on a month later. He was 96, she is 95, and they too had been married more than 70 years. ]

    • #10
  11. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Somewhere in late April of last year, our PCP offered to admit Mr. She to a dementia ward at the local hospital (where I worked for 20 years myself, have many friends, and for whose care I have the highest regard). Mr. She’s health was failing in so many ways, and I’d had a few rather frightening experiences, causing me to question if I could be attentive and on call 7×24 adequately without driving myself round the bend, or seeing him put himself in danger, in the process. 

    At the time, the local home health agencies weren’t taking on new patients, and the hospital was on lockdown, admitting no-one but patients to the facility, and I wouldn’t have been able to go visit him once he was in there.

    I said no. I think he’d have been frightened and confused under the best of circumstances, and I simply could not stomach the idea of having the door slammed in my face, and neither I nor his daughter being able to see him to say goodbye, because it was pretty clear that “goodbye” was very much in the offing. The thought of him dying in hospital, scared and alone, with absolutely no idea where he was, was sickening.

    It was a very rough month and a half, at the end of which home health started taking on new patients, and we started getting regular visits, which were a godsend. Frank died on July 3, at home, peacefully. I dunno. Perhaps if he’d have gone into the hospital, he’d have died on July 8 and had a few more days of the life-in-death he was imprisoned in. Or maybe he’d have died on May 1, of in addition to everything else, a broken heart, wondering why his wife, even if he couldn’t always remember exactly who she was, wasn’t coming to see him and taking care of him any more.

    Stories like the one in the OP really break my heart. There is absolutely no excuse for that sort of treatment at the end-of-life stage, doubly so when the COVID-positive partner is the slightly healthier one, and the other party is already in hospice. It should be a personal choice. For the life of me, I can’t see who they’re “protecting” here.

    • #11
  12. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    I’m so sorry.

    Liability issues. The “community” was afraid of being sued by someone, over something. It’s a wonder the many cases like this haven’t caused hundreds of lawsuits over people being prevented from seeing their loved ones. The average person is so cowed by the Covid Nazis that they don’t even consider that things could be different.

    • #12
  13. Eleanor Member
    Eleanor
    @Eleanor

    I am so sorry for you, for your family. 

    • #13
  14. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Take them out of the facility, tomorrow.

    What about home hospice? Is that an option?

    Sadly, I think the retirement health unit has the medical authority to disallow them to be moved into a private home, due to this infection having a “pandemic” status. Once someone is told they must quarantine, they probably can’t be brought home to a relative’s place until the quarantine is over.

    Plus it sounds like Uncle Bill probably needs a great deal of care, and perhaps uses dialysis, which cannot be done at home.

    • #14
  15. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    It is heart breaking to hear about your uncle and aunt.

    I am so sorry that common sense is so often not part of life’s equation, especially in situations where it matters.

    • #15
  16. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    It is so saddening to read the stories of @eb and @she. Unfortunately they are emblematic of the institutional response to the virus: the Precautionary Principle run amok. It’s the safe approach for the institutional entity (governments included) but devastating for the human beings. 

    The harms may never be recognized or acknowledged even as the human suffering will continue for years. The final insult will be that those responsible will not be called to account, except perhaps by their Maker. I’m beside myself with anger over this while being powerless to affect it.

    • #16
  17. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    EB: My cousin said that all we can do is pray. I told my cousin that we should probably pray that Bill does test positive. That way they could be together and he would not have to die alone in an isolation room.

    How screwed up is that? I want to weep, sometimes.

    • #17
  18. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    It is just so hard for me to accept that people cannot use simple common sense in making such vital decisions.

    Ditto.

    • #18
  19. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    EB: It is just so hard for me to accept that people cannot use simple common sense in making such vital decisions.

    Isn’t it ironic those who tout allowing patients and doctors to make decisions about their health care are making sweeping decisions about people’s health care without consulting patient or doctor? Our governor recently said if hospitals and other medical centers don’t speed up COVID vaccinations, he’s going to ban all elective surgeries, thus “freeing up” more health care workers to assist. Oh yeah, like heart surgeons’ skills are better spent giving shots . . .

    • #19
  20. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    UPDATE: First of all, I want to express my thanks to all of you who sent such warm messages of sympathy and support. 

    Secondly, Aunt Jean and Uncle Bill were moved back together Thursday evening after only 8 days of a purported quarantine. Neither one of them seems too clear about why. And my cousin has not had luck getting the nursing staff to call her back.

    Did someone have an attack of rationality or sympathy or guilt? Who can tell? 

    Given the extremely strict rules they have for visitors, it seems fairly certain that Jean contracted COVID from a staff member. And Bill told me this afternoon, that they have had several new cases in the last few days. Perhaps that has factored into their equations.

    We are just thankful that they are back together, as they have been for the last 70 years.

    • #20
  21. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    EB (View Comment):

    UPDATE: First of all, I want to express my thanks to all of you who sent such warm messages of sympathy and support.

    Secondly, Aunt Jean and Uncle Bill were moved back together Thursday evening after only 8 days of a purported quarantine. Neither one of them seems too clear about why. And my cousin has not had luck getting the nursing staff to call her back.

    Did someone have an attack of rationality or sympathy or guilt? Who can tell?

    Given the extremely strict rules they have for visitors, it seems fairly certain that Jean contracted COVID from a staff member. And Bill told me this afternoon, that they have had several new cases in the last few days. Perhaps that has factored into their equations.

    We are just thankful that they are back together, as they have been for the last 70 years.

    I know I am relieved, and I can’t imagine how good you or your aunt and uncle – are feeling.

    I haven’t gotten the image of them being separated out of my mind since I first read about it. Maybe because it parallels some things I encountered dealing with my clients who were hospitalized while I served as their nurses’ aide.

    Or maybe it is just because such events, all due to a lack of common sense, seem to be more abundant now more than ever. Our society has become so rough around the edges, when at the same time we have so little control over the roughness.

    • #21