An Air Force veteran in Louisiana who died from the coronavirus had to say his final goodbyes to relatives on FaceTime, according to a report.
Dennis Richard, a 79-year-old retired detective from Folsom, died alone in an isolation room on March 24 at a hospital in Covington, where his daughter and wife of 56 years were barred from visiting him, NOLA.com reports.
“You can say all you want, ‘They can’t keep me out,’” Richard’s daughter, Denise Feraci, told the outlet. “Well, yes they can.”
Hospitals throughout Louisiana and across the country have implemented strict policies regarding visitors to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Some hospitals in Louisiana are reportedly making exceptions to the restrictions on a case-by-case basis, but Feraci was not so lucky, she said.
In their final conversation, Richard repeatedly told his daughter he loved her and blew her a kiss during the video call with his daughter, two grandchildren and wife Connie, NOLA.com reports.
A nurse later used FaceTime again to connect with the family as a priest gave Richard his last rites, Feraci said.
“I just knew that was the end and my dad was gone,” she told the outlet. “He had no fight left in him.”
Connie Richard, meanwhile, is now mourning her husband in isolation at the home they bought two years ago to be closer to their only daughter.
Her husband, who was in the early stage of dementia, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on the day he died. He was previously hospitalized in mid-March with a gastrointestinal infection, NOLA.com reports.
Dr. David Doukas, a bioethicist at Tulane University who works in end-of-life care, said barring relatives from their loved ones during their final moments is a necessary move during pandemics.
“It is the hardest thing in the world to say that to patients,” Doukas told NOLA.com.
Doukas also referenced last week’s death of New Orleans’ jazz icon Ellis Marsalis as a sign that mourners won’t be grieving loved ones as they previously did — inside or outside of hospitals — anytime soon.
“If this was a normal time, there would have been the largest parade down Canal Street you could imagine,” Doukas said. “I know someday there will be. But will there be appropriate healing for the family? That will be the hardest part of this.”
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