Man says dad was turned away by 3 hospitals while sick with COVID-19, then died at home
DETROIT (FOX 2) - A father and grandfather are dead - and a widow is spending her anniversary in the hospital.
Her family is in mourning, wondering if some of their suffering could have been avoided.
"They have been married 25 years, man. It's just not fair, but they say that's life," said Keith Gambrell.
It's been two weeks since COVID-19 claimed lives of two of the men Gambrell loved most. His grandfather, 76-year-old David Fowler, died at Henry Ford Hospital April 6th.
His father, 56-year-old Gary Fowler would die just hours later.
"So about 6:30 the next morning my brother Troy calls me, 'Daddy won't wake up, Daddy won't wake up,' so I get over here as fast as I can," he said. "I go upstairs, my dad is sitting in the blue recliner next to the bed that he and my mom slept in, and he looks asleep, but he's blue. I just broke down, man, I just broke down."
Keith says his father should still be alive, but was turned away from receiving care and testing at Beaumont Grosse Pointe, Detroit Receiving and Henry Ford hospitals over the course of three days.
"My dad should have got the help as soon as he walked in the hospital and said he couldn't breathe," Keith said. "You should have jumped on that and made sure he could breathe before you sent him home."
Keith says his mother, who later tested positive for COVID-19, spent two days at Henry Ford on a ventilator after being turned away for testing and care at Beaumont Grosse Pointe.
"My mom's fever goes up to 102. We take her to Beaumont, there's a young lady in front of her, a Caucasian lady, she instantly complains about her stomach hurting from sushi from Grubhub," Keith said. "They instantly take her to the back. She's in the back five minutes after she tells these people what's wrong, they get her information get her insurance.
"Now it's my mother's turn to be checked out. (They) take her temperature, my mom gives her the prescription for the coronavirus that she got from her doctor to get tested for it, because her husband just died and her father-in-law died from the virus less than 12 hours ago. They tell my mom, 'Ma'am there's nothing we can do for you here, but go home, here's a piece of paper. Go home and isolate yourself with your family, come back if you really need our assistance.'"
Keith says now he and two of his siblings have tested positive for COVID-19.
"I understand now why black people are the highest affected mortality rate with this because we're being pushed home to die and infect our family," he said.
FOX 2 reached out to Beaumont for comment, and the health system provided a statement saying:
"COVID-19 is hitting southeastern Michigan particularly hard. As patients come to Beaumont for care during this extraordinary time, we are doing all we can to evaluate, triage and care for patients based on the information we know at the time. When making care decisions, we do not discriminate against anyone based upon their gender, race or any other factor. we grieve the loss of any patient to COVID-19 or any other illness."
Keith's mother is still at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Henry Ford provided a statement saying in part:
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fowler's and all families devastated by the effects of COVID-19. We're not able to share details due to patient privacy, but we don't take lightly any concerns of biased care given our dedication to putting patients first. Throughout this pandemic, we have followed CDC guidelines related to testing and clinical care protocols. Henry Ford has also been a leader in addressing health disparities and driving true health equity as part of our core mission and values and that work will continue."