He was dying of cancer, but because of respiratory issues his doctor wanted him to be tested for the coronavirus.
He died in early April before his test appointment. The cause of death was respiratory failure, which raised questions for Hospice worker Myrna Rodillon.
“My question is was that included as a COVID-related death?”
She still doesn’t have the answer.
Rodillon told NBC 7 the man was bed-bound and unable to make it to the testing site. She thinks that’s wrong and wishes she could have performed the test for her client at home.
Rodillon is the owner of The Hospice of San Diego, a small agency that helps terminally ill patients die comfortably in their homes. She wants to know why more isn’t being done to test her patients and the people around them for COVID-19, and she says even those who’ve died should be tested to give caregivers and family members information about possible exposure.
“I’m not sure if they can be tested post-death,” Rodillon added.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner does conduct COVID-19 tests on the dead if their investigation shows the patient had symptoms, like a dry cough, fever or a loss of taste. They might also run a COVID-19 test if it’s determined during autopsy that the deceased has pneumonia.
Rodillon said helping people through the final days of life is hard enough without the new challenge of dealing with testing and personal protective equipment shortages.
“You cannot provide the support that this patient and his family needs and its really heartbreaking.”