Alicia's Story

Kankakee, IL

Her name was Mary Lou Fosnaugh. She was a mom of 3 and grandma of 6.




When I talked to my mom on December 19th, I had no idea it would be our last phone call.


Cautious of Covid


“Mom, we just have to stay out of the hospitals. Things are getting really bad.”

The last thing I said to her was, “Mom, we just have to stay out of the hospitals. Things are getting really bad.” I talked to my mom nearly every single day. She was cautious of Covid, and even though it killed her to stay away from her grandkids, we tried to follow recommendations to keep everyone safe. My youngest child has an underlying health condition, and after having other family members in her home test positive for Covid earlier this fall, we were relieved that she hadn’t ever had one symptom, and had sailed right through. We were actually talking about her doing a Covid antibody test in the coming weeks to see if she’d gained natural immunity. She has been our rock over the past 9 years especially, and has been there for every grandchild’s birth, school programs, sporting events, doctors appointments-you name it. She took care of everyone, and would drop everything to come help those that she loved at a second’s notice. She was just a caretaker by nature.


In the ER


She was 75, but you’d never guess it by how active she was. Many days she could be found working in her vegetable garden, or playing hide and seek at the park with her grandkids. She was a dance and gymnastics instructor, and owned her own business for almost 20 years. On the morning of December 21st, that all changed. A frantic phone call from my dad and brother told me that my mom wasn’t doing well. She had been sleeping a lot the previous day, and vomiting, and was starting to become unresponsive. We thought maybe she had picked up a stomach virus, and was weak from dehydration since my dad had similar symptoms. We have a family history of stroke, so we decided it would be best to call the paramedics and have her started on IV fluids, and to have an evaluation. Her primary doctor wasn’t able to see her. The paramedics asked my dad a few quick questions, and my mom was transported to Riverside Medical Center by ambulance. I begged my brother and dad to have her transported to another hospital due to so many staff shortages at this hospital due to mandates, but the ambulance automatically took her to Riverside anyway. My dad followed the ambulance to the hospital, and was told that he would not be allowed in with her due to Covid policies, and that no visitors were allowed. He basically dropped her off at the door, and no one bothered to ask about her medications, allergies, or any information that is typically asked upon registration. When I called the hospital to find out what was happening in the confusion, no one even had a record of her name, phone number, address, family contact information, or insurance information. The operator told me that I was “getting sarcastic” with her and that I needed to calm down when I started asking questions about my mom and what her status was.

Trying to Get Answers


“We also told them that under no circumstance was she to receive Dexamethasone or Remdesivir, and that we did not consent to these medications.”

Eventually, I was able to speak to the nurse caring for her in the ER. They told me that her electrolytes, sodium, and potassium levels were dangerously low, and they needed to get those balanced out, but would be doing a CT to rule out anything neurological happening. We waited for results. Eventually, a doctor called us and told us they had not found evidence of stroke on the CT, but further testing would be done. They also told us my mom had tested positive for Covid. At this point, we told every doctor and nurse that we spoke to that we would need to be contacted by phone of ANY change in her status or if any medications would be needed for her treatment since they would not allow us to speak to her or be with her in the hospital. We also told them that under no circumstance was she to receive Dexamethasone or Remdesivir, and that we did not consent to these medications. They agreed, and said that since she was stable, and was breathing and saturating oxygen on her own, Covid was not their main concern.


They Followed The Protocol


She was to be admitted to ICU for further evaluation for her neurological symptoms. After very little communication, and being transferred from one department to another all day, we finally received a phone call from the ICU doctor on December 23rd. More testing was being done now that my mom’s sodium and potassium levels were stabilizing, and she was put on a blood pressure medication due to her blood pressure being elevated, which my dad and I consented to her receiving. The doctor then mentioned that she was being treated according to the hospital’s Covid protocol. My heart dropped. I asked them what the Covid protocol included, and he told me that my mom had received Dexamethasone and two doses of Remdesivir. My mother was unresponsive, and could not give informed consent. We were never notified before they started on these medications, and we told the doctor again that we had said repeatedly that she was never to receive these medications. He apologized for the mistake, told us that it was a communication issue and that she was being taken off of these medications immediately. He could not give a reason why these were given to my mom when she was breathing on her own and saturating oxygen. There was no reason. We finally reached the charge nurse hours later after sitting on hold for hours, and they noted on her chart finally that these medications were never to be given.


The Damage Was Done


Unfortunately, the damage was already done. On December 24th, we received a call from another doctor confirming that my mom had suffered several massive strokes. Recovery was not likely. My mom was also now in congestive heart failure with her heart operating at 20-25%. Her kidney function was also decreasing. These are all side effects of Remdesivir. We were told that she would likely need intubation and a ventilator. We asked why when she continued to breathe on her own, and they couldn’t give us a clear reason why. They continued to go back and forth about Covid pneumonia, but no one ever gave us clear answers. So many red flags, and a complete lack of communication. We declined intubation or a ventilator. We all know that hospitals receive a bigger payout for these interventions, and we wouldn’t put my mom through that.


By December 25th, my mom continued to decline, and further brain MRI’s determined that there was no hope of recovery from the strokes and heart failure. She was moved to hospice care on December 28th. My dad, brother, and I were told that we could finally be allowed into the hospital, but would only be able to meet in a waiting room in the ICU, and would not be allowed to go into her room to say goodbye. Policies changed yet again, and the hospital made an accommodation to let my dad and brother into the room when they arrived for 10 minutes. I did not know this, and wasn’t able to tell my mom goodbye. I was not allowed back in either. My dad also requested that my mom receive last rites as she is Catholic, and those were her final wishes. They did not allow a priest in for this, so she didn’t even receive last rites. She passed away alone on the morning of December 29th when we were notified by phone call. My mom did not deserve this, and I want to stop anyone else from the pain this has caused our entire family.

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