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Sick and All Alone

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It shouldn’t be needed, but it is. Florida governor Ron DeSantis has introduced a patient protection bill, so that ‘if you’re in a hospital or long-term care facility, you have a right to have your loved ones there present with you.’  Every other state and country will hopefully follow. Some places have even prevented the dying from dying in the company and warmth of loved ones.

Reacting to the Governors bill, Brownstone scholar Dr. Jay Bhattacharya tweeted

“Perhaps the cruelest lockdown policy: preventing people from visiting their sick loved ones in hospitals or long-term care facilities”

Many people commented on that post. The stories came pouring in. Among the many, here are some:

“No perhaps about it….it was heartless, ineffective and cruel. I lost my mother during this; I am not sure I can ever forgive the hospital policy makers for this.” – Danny Peoples, USA (@Danny99634068)

“We were allowed to see my mom for 5 minutes the day of her death. 2 by 2, though. We couldn’t be with her all together as a family. The 9 weeks prior she suffered alone in ICU surrounded by people in space suits. No visitors. She never had Covid. She died with no dignity.” – ClownBasket (@ClownBasket)

“My grandma passed away in May 2020. The last time the family saw her was outside the window at her assisted living facility, unable to actually speak due to her difficulty hearing.”  – Analytical Badger, Wisconsin (@BadgerStats)

“My mom got kicked out of the hospital by security (in FL, only 6 months ago) trying to visit my dad on Day 3 of his hospital stay. They assured her they were taking care of him. He passed from a heart attack 2 days later. The lack of allowing for patient advocacy is sickening.”  – Psyche’s Dagger (@PsychesDagger)

“My grandma didn’t deserve her last ten months of isolation.” – Mark Changizi (@MarkChangizi)

“I’ll never be over my blind father having to advocate for himself alone in a hospital for 3 1/2 weeks. Never. I have his messages of pure fear.”  – Jennifer Hotes, Seattle, WA (@JenniferLHotes)

“I was in hospital, heart attack in BC a year ago. Scariest moment in my life, [they] wouldn’t let my wife visit me.”  – hear.the.truth.now, Penticton, BC, Canada (@MandelbrotG)

“How I wished Mass General Hospital would have done things differently. An old woman wanted her husband to accompany her upstairs for a doctor appointment, but MGH wouldn’t allow it. She was nervous and terrified. I will never forget what they did to people.” –  Fibci, MA (@Fibci2)

“No fan of DeSantis but currently some hospitals in CA prohibit someone from seeing their depressed spouse, family members from coming in to help a mildly delirious loved one, kids from seeing their parents unless they’re gravely ill. Even if family’s vaxed x3… It’s not right.” – James Lim, MD, Southern California (@JLimHospMD)

“Agreed. My dad walked into a hospital last year and came out on hospice because my mom was not allowed to see him.” – Tia Ghose, San Fransisco, CA (@tiaghose)

“My wife’s abuelo was taken out of his Bogota apartment by men in hazmat suits, not allowed to say goodbye to his wife of 50 years, died alone in hospital, funeral in a parking lot. When abuela got covid they didn’t call the hospital. She stayed home. Everyone got to say goodbye.” – Team Sweden (@SwedenTeam)

“In New York, my 84-year-old mother had sepsis. We had to literally drop her off at the door. She was unable to advocate for herself and we were not able to speak with her for days. It was incredibly hard to reach her doctor or a nurse. It was an unmitigated disaster.”  – thedatadon, Florida (@thedatadonald)

“Our good friend was only 44 and had no idea he had stage 4 colorectal, liver, lung, and lymphatic cancer. He fought as long as he could but none of us were ever able to see him in his final days in the hospital. Final months really. One visitor per day. Today is his birthday.”  – Dave (@Dave31952257)

“My vaccinated Dad wasn’t able to go see his vaccinated Mom (my Grandma) last Mother’s Day because of a ban on “non-essential” travel between Quebec and Ontario. She died 2 days before the ban was lifted. Her brother was killed by Nazis. Lest we forget.”  – Adam Millward Art, Montréal, Canada (@nexusvisions)

“My aunt died in an empty hospital in Amarillo from breast cancer in late 2020. She was so scared of the virus she didn’t go to the doctor until her breast literally started to atrophy and she collapsed. No visitors. I had to help her son sneak in to see her and we were kicked out.”  – razumikhin (@cw_cnnr)

“I’m afraid to let my family members [be admitted] to the hospital. Not afraid of covid at all, we’ve all had it, but worried about having family isolated and no one to advocate for them.” – Donna H, Pleasant Grove, Utah (@Donna_H67)

“My dad was in assisted living, in good health except unsteady on his feet. When prolonged Covid restrictions prevented any of us, his family, from visiting, and kept him confined to his room even for meals, he told an aide ‘This is no way to live’. 10 days later he went to Heaven.”  – Tray Shelley, (@tlsintexas)

“Yesterday my husband’s cousins were not allowed in the hospital where their mother was dying (non-covid related). It was unexpected and it is obscene that they were unable to say goodbye. They needed it and she needed it.” – Yada yada yada (@3girlsmommd)

“This brings me to tears because I worked in a nursing home through the pandemic, and it broke my heart that dying patients couldn’t have their families with them! We had to be their family, but it was tragic!” – Jean Walker (@JeanWal33859349)

“The people who will remember the (fear) pandemic response the most are not people who got sick and recovered, but rather people barred from seeing their loved ones who died while hospitalized.” – Dr. NotWoke Setty, Tampa, FL (@hsettymd)

“I had to fight the VA, hospital administrators and threaten to sue to bring my father home. He passed quietly with my Mom next to him, surrounded by family. It breaks my heart that our most precious population has been treated so cruelly.” – Sherry (@sherryande)

“My father had pancreatic cancer. We were forced to leave his bedside due to the lockdown he was alone his final days the hospital called in his final moments but when we got there he was gone. He died alone. Tomorrow is his birthday.” – foodforlife123456 (@foodforlife1231)

“In December 2020, my wife took a prayer blanket to the hospital that she had made for her mother in the hospital. No one in the hospital would come to take it to her room. She died the next day which was Christmas morning while our girls were opening presents.” – Postman, Texas (@postman2421)

“I couldn’t visit my Dad in the hospital for 2 weeks before he died. I was “allowed” to see him the day he died but it was too late.”  – Gary (@gmangehl)

“I work with dementia residents. For a year and a half these residents couldn’t communicate with their families because they weren’t capable of phone calls or window visits. That is a long time for someone with dementia. They deteriorate further or pass in that time. So inhumane.”  – paige (@pgs300)

“My mom passed away in April of 2020 at a retirement home. She was 102, in surprisingly good health, but declined immediately following the lockdown. The facility did break rules to allow family in to be with her over her last week or so. There was no opportunity for a funeral.”  – Prickly Mystic (@MysticPrickly)

“My grandma has been dying in hospital for about a week with us waiting in the lot begging to visit for five minutes. No. I think she’s simply losing the will to live. Genuinely wonder how many excess deaths are deaths of despair and loneliness.”  – goldnecklace (@goldnecklace2)

“In 2020 Melbourne my mother was in residential care. Our first lockdown took her mind. When I saw her after this, she didn’t know who I was. We were then locked down for a second time. This second lockdown took her life. Cruel and unnecessary.”  – HegelOrHegel (@HegelorHegel)

“I have seen this firsthand in the nursing facilities I go to. So many of my patients died from sheer loneliness. It has been incredibly hard for me as a behavioral health provider to witness. Kudos to Gov Ron DeSantis for making sure this doesn’t happen in Florida.”  – Dr Deepan Chatterjee, Maryland (@DrDeepChat007)

“I live in BC, Canada; my elderly aunt literally starved when her daughters weren’t allowed to see her and help her eat, went from 100 to 71 lbs. and admin kept telling my cousins she was ‘fine’. Finally concerned care aides contacted them to tell them she wasn’t fine.”  – Marion Ambler, Vancouver, Canada (@MarionAmbler)

“I brought my Dad who has dementia to see my stepmom in a rehab facility during the lockdowns. Luckily, she had a first-floor room with a window. We stood outside in the POURING rain talking to her. He was so confused and mad that she wouldn’t let him in.”  – Kfaria (@Kfaria8)

“I wasn’t able to see my grandma before she died. My dad luckily was, but his brother was not. He stayed in town for weeks hoping they’d let him see her. They said if she went into a critical condition, they’d let us see her. They never did. She died alone.”  – Marie (@mariecaun)

“A family member died of cancer during one of the many lockdowns in Canada. No one was allowed to see him. His funeral was only allowed to be 10 people. It’s like their lives didn’t matter. So so sad.”  – Fern (@fern_forrest_)

“I worry constantly that my 87-year-old blind mother will need medical treatment and she will be alone. She says she will not go for fear of not coming out. The thought terrifies me, I have many sleepless nights.” – goodnightfromthelowerlevel (@mmmaybe)

“Of everything in my ICU career, what will stick with me most is being in patients’ rooms when they died, alone, while their distraught loved ones watched through an iPad because they weren’t allowed to be in the hospital.”  – Trucker Enthusiast (@_Spolar_)

“In Canada I couldn’t visit my grandmother in the hospital, but they allowed skype calls via the hospital iPad. They never charged the iPads. She died and I never got to see her even remotely.”  – Vovin, Toronto, Canada (@vovin5)

“My father-in-law died alone with no last rites. We watched on zoom. He was petrified. There were no services. The following week BLM rallies in Boston started and those were totally fine. I was called a racist for being angry.”   – Mom Loves Wine, Boston, USA (@Momloveswine1)

“Yep. Was prevented from seeing my Grammy for all of 2020 until her death in 2021. 99 years young. She died alone.”  – Concerned Citizen, Encinitas, California (@mercury941)

“Yup. And women giving birth alone. SHAMEFUL.” – Kelley (@kelley14419438)

“Also, not allowing husbands in for important ultrasound visits to be with their wife, where there may be something wrong with the baby.” – ec47c (@ec147c)

“My elderly father had procedure in Florida hospital 2 weeks ago. Frustrated at being alone and not understanding all that was going on, he complained so much they discharged him 48 hours later. At home, next morning, his bed sheets were soaked in blood. He healed. But we had a scare.” – Ewetopian (@Ewetopian)

“My mom is in the hospital (non-covid related) and she’s only allowed 1 named visitor her entire stay. She’s been in for weeks and sobbing and depressed all day. It’s torture and cruel and is protecting no one.” – Free and Loud (@ohiogirl81511)

“Because of these monsters, my grandmother spent almost a year in isolation in her tiny room. She met her two newest great grandchildren through a window and started talking to pictures on the wall. Fortunately, we eventually got her out. Never forgive, never forget.” – Danny Hudson, Nashville, Tennessee (@FinEssentials)

“To all the nurses that snuck people in – you are HEROES.” – Divinely Placed Texan, Hillsborough County, Florida (@Maskingchildbad)

“My friend in Alabama’s dad was in assisted living facility with Parkinson’s. Family barred from seeing him from March-Aug 2020, when they received call saying he was at end of life and that ‘he had declined significantly since his fall in April’ that they had never been told about!” – Here Is Publius, Virginia (@hereispublius)

“I have an elderly extended family member who died of non-Covid reasons – who was not permitted contact with any family member during the last 3 months of her life. Because of the insanity that took over epidemiology.” – Falskerbra (@UnitedAirPR)

“My husband is going in for open heart surgery this week. I’ve had Covid and recovered. I’m being told I won’t be able to see him in the hospital while he’s in recovery. (Illinois) it’s sick and disgusting!” – plain belly sneech (@skjohns1965)

“My grandfather in law was unable to see his daughter, my mother-in-law, before she passed away from cancer. My coworker was unable to visit her daughter in the hospital and didn’t find out she had died until three days after.” – Babs, Massachusetts (@MantiB)

“My mom passed away after a month in a rehab facility after surgery 8 months ago. Only my dad was allowed to see her, only 2 hours/week. Rest of us had to wave to her through the window. She died alone. All of us were fully vaxed.” – A Parent of CPS kids, Chicago, IL (@AcpsParent)

“The nursing home tried to keep me out, but my daughter had the two of us listed as “compassionate caregivers” and they were forced to let us in. Thanks to Gov. DeSantis my mother did not die alone, and I will always, always be grateful.” – Carolyn Tackett, South Shore, Florida, (@CarolsCloset)

“My friend’s dad in Florida had to go check himself into the hospital with internal bleeding. His liver transplant was postponed. His wife crying in the parking lot. Thank God he was released, and he passed in his sleep at home. 10 people at his funeral. June 2020. Never forget.” – OrangeChickenMH (@OrangeChickenMH)

“My grandmother did not have covid. And died after a month of isolation from her family and suspected neglect. Staff too stretched thin and emotionally worn. She died two days before she was set to come home. On their 70th anniversary. She would have been 93 today.” – SAEDogmom (@SaeDogmom)

“My adult son was recently hospitalized for appendicitis; I was not allowed to see him. Fortunately, all went well, but it was very upsetting just in that minor instance. I can’t imagine if you had elderly parents or God forbid a spouse you couldn’t see in a more dire situation.” – AverageAmerican (@Average00037367)

“I had an older friend who died of prostate cancer during the pandemic. I wrote this piece as a tribute to him and so I can always remember how we treated dying people during COVID.”  – Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, California (@DrJBhattacharya)

“Haven’t seen my grandma in 2 years. She lost my papa just before all this started. Married for 68 years. She was put in a home for her safety. Now she is alone and grieving on her own Broken heart. She has rapidly declined because only one person has been allowed to see her”  – Karl, Vancouver, Canada (@K59096598)

“My severely mentally and physically handicapped cousin. Went in for viral pneumonia. Tested positive in hospital, moved to covid ward. No visitors allowed. Died alone, afraid and confused. Unforgivable.”  – Deb (@Deb08795065)

“My 94-year-old dad with red heart problems was in a board and care home. I could only stand on the front porch luckily his room faced the street, and he didn’t have his hearing aids, so I’d have to yell. The neighbors thought I was nuts. I got to see him four a few minutes the day before he died.” – FlowerPowerKatie, Silicon Valleey, California (@nileskt)

“You can think DeSantis is wrong on so many other fronts, and he’s still right about this. Loneliness is a cruel punishment for people whose only crime is being old.” – Shannon Brownlee, Washington DC (@ShannonBrownlee)

“My best friend’s mother got sick but put off going to the hospital because she was terrified of being there alone. It got bad enough she finally went- a week later she was dead. Alone. Family wasn’t permitted to be with her even in the final hours.” – Sam M (@iamsamh2)

“Imagine how many people died because they avoided hospitals for this exact reason.” – Meredith (@Opportunitweet)

“Last time I saw my grandmother she said, ‘live your life honey’, repeatedly. I was lucky she was in a private facility that allowed visitors. The day she left this world we were having the first dinner party since the beginning of all this. I lived my life that day.” – nooneinparticular (@SweateyYeti)

Author

  • The Brownstone Institute for Social and Economic Research is a nonprofit organization conceived of in May 2021 in support of a society that minimizes the role of violence in public life.


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