TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - An 84-year-old man is at home battling the coronavirus after family and friends say he was discharged from a Tucson nursing and rehab center this week.
The man was allegedly so weak, he collapsed when he got home.
“I’ve known chuck for about 20 years and he’s a good friend,” said Karen Foster. “He’s like family.”
So, when Foster found out Chuck needed a ride home from La Cañada Care Center Monday morning, she jumped at the chance to help.
“Two people came out with him - I was not allowed to go in of course - and it took two of them to get him into my car,” she said. “Then we drove to his house.”
Foster says she noticed Chuck seemed to struggle getting enough air into his lungs during the drive, adding he took off his mask and rolled down the window.
A family member says Chuck was in rehabilitation at the care center following a procedure at the end of May. Five weeks later, he was discharged on July 6th.
“He walked a few steps to his front door but as soon as we got inside, he fell back on a bench that’s in the front foyer because he said ‘I can’t go any further’, " said Foster. “He said, ‘It hurts’, and I said, ‘What hurts?’ And he said, ‘It hurts to breathe!’”
Foster called 9-1-1 and Chuck was rushed to Northwest Medical Center. Copies of his discharge instructions show he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and dehydration.
While the C.E.O. of La Cañada Care Center, Michael Bostwick, told KOLD News 13 he could not comment on specific cases due to patient privacy, he sent us the following statement:
“We would not discharge a resident to the community or home who was clinically unstable or inappropriate for discharge unless we were honoring the request of the resident/responsible party after they have been provided all the relevant information about the potential risks and consequences associated with such a request.
On the issue of testing, we fully appreciate its importance in the infection control process. We are currently performing testing when there has been exposure to a COVID-19 positive resident or staff member, or when a resident or staff member is symptomatic as per current CDC guidance.”
Foster says she finds it hard to believe staff did not notice any of Chuck’s symptoms.
As the primary caretaker for her husband who is recovering from a surgery, and as someone who is at a high risk for the virus, Foster says she has had a lot of sleepless nights.
“I go to sleep and then I wake up and worry,” she said.
So far, she says she and her husband have not displayed any symptoms COVID-19. The two are self-isolating in their home. Foster says more testing needs to be done at care facilities.
“[Residents] should be tested for the virus when they go in and when they leave because we have got to get on top of this,” said Foster.
Family members tell us Chuck is recovering with help from two at-home nurses. They say he seems to be doing better.
The Director of Arizona Health Services, Dr. Cara Christ, says the state has “completed Phase One of the testing of the skilled nursing facilities. Health officials are now circling back for Phase Two testing and plan to start testing st assisted nursing facilities.”