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We were not given chance to say goodbye


April 7, 2021 Letters to the Editor

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It is with a very heavy heart that I am responding to the article on the front page of the Butler Eagle on March 31, 2021 concerning the handling of the pandemic by the “Front-Line Heroes.”

In particular, I would like to refer to the paragraph on saying goodbye. It states that if a doctor knew a patient had just days or even hours to live, close family members could come inside the hospital and put on protective gear to say goodbye to their family member.

Such was not the case concerning the death of my husband on the morning of March 22, 2020.

He was admitted to the hospital early in March for a second bout and surgery for colon cancer. On March 14, the hospital stopped all visitations and we were not permitted to see him from that time on. We spoke with him by phone and once on an iPad on Thursday evening, March 19, and it was observed that he was very short of breath and difficult to understand when he spoke and did not seem to be doing well at all. I was contacted each day by a doctor from the hospital and never once did he mention that my husband was in serious condition or in danger of death.

On Saturday evening, March 21, we were contacted by the hospital that my husband’s heart had stopped and they had brought him back to life and taken him to the ICU unit, and advised us to get to the hospital as soon as we could. We were placed in a small conference room near the emergency room and told to put on a mask and wait for a doctor from the ICU to come to speak with us, and we all were under the impression we would be able to see my husband after speaking with her.

However, this did not happen. It was explained to us that he could spend months in a nursing home, undergo rigorous chemotherapy and still pass away in the end. It was recommended to us that we place him on “comfort measures only,” and we were sent home without being permitted to see him. The purpose of calling us to the hospital is unclear to this day.

On Sunday morning, March 22, we contacted the hospital and spoke to the doctor in ICU that we had decided to put my husband on comfort measures only, at which time he informed us to get to the hospital quickly because he was failing fast. When we got there each family member, one at a time, was permitted to go up to see my husband.

Nobody came to speak with me or advise us of his status, and when I arrived at his room with my daughter, he was already gone. It only takes 10-15 minutes to drive from my home to the hospital, and rigor mortis had already set in, so we have no idea how long he had been gone.

Nobody ever took the time to speak with any one of us to offer their condolences, to explain what had happened, or anything. We found out the cause of death when we read the death certificate.

Three days after my husband passed, I read in the Butler Eagle that someone had passed at the Butler Hospital with their loving family with them, and to this day I cannot understand why we were not afforded this privilege.

I think after almost 63 years of marriage that I should have been given the opportunity to be with him in his passing hours to comfort him and tell him that I loved him in his final moments.

As far as I am concerned, the “true heroes” are the patients who were trapped inside, looked all around the room and saw nothing but strangers and wondered why they were passing with not one of their loved ones with them.

Incidentally, my husband did not have COVID-19, was in a private room, and why were we allowed to enter his room after he was gone and not before? I will never understand this.

Joyce C. Zanella,

Donegal Township

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