Man who contracted Covid-19 in hospital sent home to 'high-risk' wife

ireland
The couple had safely cocooned together throughout the year of 2020 without contracting the virus.
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By Digital Desk Staff

Multiple patients have contracted Covid-19 on the wards of a Waterford hospital and been sent home to isolate due to a shortage of beds, according to their families.

The Waterford News & Star reports that one man's “high-risk” wife has since tested positive for the disease, after he contracted it in University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and was discharged.

The couple had safely cocooned together throughout the year of 2020 without contracting the virus.

Oliver Renehen is the main carer for his wife Maura, who has Parkinson’s Disease. Mr Renehen first tested negative for Covid-19 when he was admitted to hospital after slipping on ice on January 3rd.

He was placed into UHW’s Orthopaedic Ward 2, which confirmed an outbreak of Covid-19 on January 8th.

He was then sent home on January 13th after a positive test for the disease — although the hospital was made aware it would be impossible for him to self-isolate from his wife.

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How on earth could they send an elderly man, just after surgery, home to his high-risk wife

“Dad is the main carer for our mam who is in the last stages of Parkinson’s Disease,” Mr Renehen’s daughter, Ann Marie McCarthy said.

“He looks after all her needs such as administering between 15-20 tablets a day, feeding her, giving her medicine pump and more.”

“We explained to the hospital that we were concerned for our parents’ safety but honestly, they made us feel like we were annoying them. They said that he was well enough after his surgery to go home and not unwell enough with the virus to be kept in,” Ms McCarthy said.

“How on earth could they send an elderly man, just after surgery, home to his high-risk wife.”

Impossible situation

Both Mr Renehen and his wife Maura usually sleep in the same downstairs bedroom. Ms McCarthy said the family were not given enough time by the hospital to set up a separate bed for her father in the sitting room.

“We told the hospital that it would be impossible for dad to self-isolate,” Ms McCarthy said. “There were no toilet facilities upstairs and besides, he wouldn’t be able to climb the stairs as it is.”

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Ms MCarthy said the family had been put in an “impossible” situation.

“They told us that we can mask up and care for our parents,” Ms McCarthy said. “We had been caring for parents but then the hospital gave my dad Covid-19 and as I have asthma and am very worried about contracting Covid, we’re put into a horrible situation.”

Ms Renehen has developed symptoms of the virus and tested positive for Covid-19 since her husband’s discharge from hospital.

There is a duty of care that is being ignored here

“There is a duty of care that is being ignored here, especially as my father was in their care when he contracted Covid. He was simply thrown out and put into a dangerous, unimaginable situation. They are the ones who are supposed to protect us but they’re putting us in the most danger,” Ms McCarthy said.

The Waterford News & Star has been contacted by two other families who report their older parents had also contracted Covid-19 on a UHW ward and then been sent home.

In a statement, a spokesperson for UHW confirmed there are currently a number of Covid-19 outbreaks within the hospital.

“The Crisis Management Team are actively managing these outbreaks and the hospital continues to implement the appropriate Covid-19 controls and management protocols.

“The hospital cannot comment on individual cases, however, patients are discharged only when deemed clinically fit for discharge by their consultant.”

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