63-year-old Deborah Gatewood worked as a phlebotomist for Beaumont Health in Michigan for 31 years. So, when she developed a fever and cough last month she turned to them for help.
“They sent her home saying you are showing signs of COVID,” said Kaila Corrothers, her daughter. “So they were confirming that she most likely had COVID, but they did not test her.”
Deborah’s daughter tracked the days her mother went to the ER on her phone’s calendar. According to her records, Deborah went to the hospital four times. Each time she was given cough medicine and sent home. Each time her fever got higher and her symptoms got worse.
“The fact that she got infected by doing the job she did for 31 years and she couldn’t get taken care of by her own family, meaning Beaumont it’s sad,” said Kaila. “It is disheartening to say the least.”
By the end of March, Deborah had withered away – developing bi-lateral pneumonia.
“All of this time when you’re telling her to go home and rest it off how do you really rest off bi-lateral pneumonia other than cough medicine to cough it out, it’s too severe at this point,” Corrothers said.
Deborah collapsed and was taken by ambulance to Sinai-Grace Hospital – at that point, inundated and understaffed, it is where she’d spend her final days.
“I just went up to the hospital and sat in the parking lot. If this was as close as I can be to her if this is going to happen, I’m going to sit in my car until I get that phone call,” Corrothers said.
This only child said goodbye to her 63-year-old mother, two years from retiring, when she planned to be a full-time grandma.
“She said she’s going to hang in there for a couple more years and she say she going to retire and be the greatest nanny I need her to be,” her daughter said.
It was a different point in the pandemic a month ago when Deborah first went to Beaumont’s ER. Fox 2 Detroit asked Beaumont what their protocol is now for admitting people, this was the response:
“As patients come to Beaumont for care during this pandemic, we are doing everything we can to evaluate, triage and care for patients based on the information we know at the time. We grieve the loss of any patient to COVID-19 or any other illness.”