No matter the circumstances, preparing for a loved one’s death is tough.
Annalisia Wilharm said she didn’t expect a doctor would deliver the heartbreaking news about her grandfather via a video screen.
Wilharm was sitting next to her grandfather in the ICU of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in California when the machine suddenly rolled into their room. A doctor then appeared via live video link to deliver the news.
Her 78-year-old grandfather Ernest Quintana passed away the next day.
Speaking about what happened, Wilharm told CNN: “I think they should have had more dignity and treated him better than they did. No granddaughter, no family member should have to go through what I just did with him.”
Wilharm also said her family knew that her grandfather would die but they are very upset by the way the message was delivered. She and her family hope no other patient receives that kind of treatment.
“I was so scared for him and disappointed with the delivery,” Wilharm expressed. “And I could tell by the look on his face what that did to him.”
A spokesperson for the hospital offered ‘sincere condolences to the family.’
“We take this very seriously and have reached out to the family to discuss their concerns,” said Michelle Gaskill-Hames, senior vice president of Kaiser Permanente Greater Southern Alameda County.
She added: “Our physicians and nurses were in regular, in-person communication with the patient and family about his condition from the moment he entered our hospital.
The evening video tele-visit was a follow-up to earlier physician visits — it did not replace previous conversations with patient and family members and was not used in the delivery of the initial diagnosis.”
Quintana had lived with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for years. The condition is a progressive lung disease that makes breathing difficult. It includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
In the footage, the doctor told Quintana via screen: “Unfortunately there’s nothing we can treat very effectively.”
The doctor said they could give him morphine to make him comfortable but that would make his breathing more difficult.
“You know, I don’t know if he’s going to get home,” the doctor added. He also said that the best treatment plan at that point was to start focusing on Quintana’s comfort.
Wilharm said he immediately called her grandmother and mother so they could get back to the hospital.
She told CNN: “We knew that we were going to lose him. Our point is the delivery (of the news). There was no compassion.”
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