Florida COVID-19 patient: From diagnosis to death in just a few days

So far, more than 3.3 million people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the US since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

A medical worker administers a test for the coronavirus disease (photo credit: REUTERS)
A medical worker administers a test for the coronavirus disease
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hortencia Laurens, an almost 70-year-old woman from Florida, was diagnosed with coronavirus on July 2, a few days only before her family's annual trip to the west coast of Florida. Soon after, her life and the life of her family became a nightmare. Tossed between several hospitals, she tragically died only a few days later in her daughter’s arms.
The story was retold by CNN.
Her grandson, Diego Fereira, told the American news outlet that she spent her final days navigating the Florida healthcare system with a rapidly progressing illness.
When she started feeling unwell, first with stomach symptoms and weakness, she was brought by her daughter - Fereira’s aunt -  to the Memorial Hospital in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Laurens was left alone in the hospital, due to the virus precautions, with underlying medical conditions, including diabetes. She did not speak any English.  The next morning, the hospital called her family to tell them she had COVID-19.
Laurens cried to her family that she was scared, Fereira recalled.
According to a medical document provided by Fereira to CNN, she was released around 3 a.m. on Thursday with instructions to pick up prescriptions and to call her doctor for a follow-up consultation in two days. As she didn’t have a cellphone, her family had no way to make contact with her directly and it was 6 a.m. before the hospital let them know she could be picked up, he said.
The hospital system said it couldn't comment on Laurens' specific case but that admission decisions are based on a number of factors and the physician's assessment.
That Thursday night, still feeling unwell, she was taken by her daughter to another Memorial Hospital, this time in Miramar.
Fereira said that at the second hospital she was once again diagnosed with coronavirus and got prescriptions to pick up, which were verified by documentation provided by her grandson.
Although the hospital instructed her to schedule a follow-up visit around July 4, all the medical offices were closed for the holiday, and she got an appointment for early that week, an appointment that she unfortunately never attended.
Laurens was looked after by her daughter all weekend. Fereira said that she had a bad day on Saturday, with fever, chills and body aches, but seemed to improve Sunday. Then Sunday night and into Monday morning, she developed chest pains and difficulty breathing. She started sweating profusely, Fereira's mother and aunt told him.
Fereira told CNN that he woke up on Monday morning to a 2 a.m. text from his father saying Laurens was being taken to the hospital in an ambulance with her daughters.
In his aunt's arms, in the ambulance, Fereira's grandmother died.
An EMT looked on, frozen, and his aunt told Fereira that she had to shake him out of it.
Medical personnel attempted to revive her at the hospital, but she did not make it.
On Wednesday, the family gathered in a small group for her funeral. Most had to join online from Colombia or Venezuela where Laurens immigrated from in the early 2000s, hoping for a more comfortable life and better health care, Fereira said.
Memorial Healthcare System, which includes the Pembroke and Miramar locations where Laurens was treated, said in a statement that the hospital system cannot comment on patient care due to HIPAA privacy regulations.
The statement read, as published by CNN: "As a public healthcare system, Memorial does not, nor have we ever, allowed bed availability to determine care decisions, a policy we expect to continue despite the surge of COVID-19 cases. Admission to a hospital is a physician-driven decision based on many factors, including a patient's vitals and clinical presentation at the emergency room. Throughout the state, about 20% of patients who are COVID-19 positive visit emergency rooms. Ultimately, statewide data shows that about 11% of people with COVID-19 get admitted to hospitals."
So far, more than 3.3 million people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the US since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Florida has been hit particularly hard, leaving hospitals around the state overwhelmed.
Fereira told CNN that he hopes the story will encourage people to take more measures to reduce the spread of the virus and support medical staff as restrictions lift and cases increase.
"The worse it gets, the worse it's going to get in hospitals -- and things like this are going to keep happening," he said.


Tags Florida