My parents told me they had fevers on March 18th. Until then they had continued acting like the world was normal. They live in Florida and COVID was in Washington State, not Florida, they thought. My brother convinced them to go to get tested and on March 25 they gave in and did. By then they both had pneumonia. They texted my brother and I to let us know they were going in to the ER to get tested. That was at 12:15 EST. 14 minutes later they told me they were being admitted into the hospital.
At around 6:30 EST the hospital called me on my Dad’s cell phone to let me know that my mom had been intubated and taken up to the ER and my dad insisted they call me before sedating and intubating him so he knew we knew what was happening. I didn’t get to talk to him because he didn’t have enough breath.
Tracey’s Parents Bob and Bano
I called my family to let them all know what was going on and that is when I found out that there might be an insurance problem. Dad wasn’t technically admitted into the hospital yet. He was still in the ER waiting for an ICU bed. If he wasn’t sent up to the ICU then Medicare would not cover the ER visit according to my aunt. She insisted I call the hospital and make sure he was in the ICU before midnight.
To this day I do not know if this is true. He got his ICU bed at 9:45 EST. But, that isn’t really the point. I had to call the hospital concerned about money while really all I care about is my parent’s lives. Because, whether they would be charged or not, someone in the same situation as them in America will be charged. It should not have been part of what I was stressing about.
My mother passed on March 30th. Dad is still fighting after 20 days on a ventilator. I have never gotten the chance to speak to either of them again. 20 days for Dad so far in ICU and 5 for Mom. Without their Medicare and Medicare Advantage he would come out of the hospital destitute. In that we are lucky but I think of the thousands of people in this country with no insurance during this pandemic and have just one more reason to cry.
Tracey C., Olympia WA, She/Her