LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Michele Edens is in mourning after her mother suffered a heart attack and died in the hospital last week. Edens is now questioning the visitor restrictions that kept her from saying a proper goodbye.
Last Wednesday, Edens’ mother Diana Lynn Craig, 62, called Edens complaining of chest pain. Edens who lives down the street from her mother in La Grange, drove Craig to a local hospital as she went into cardiac arrest. Craig was later transferred to Baptist Health Louisville for intensive care.
Before entering the ICU, Edens tells WAVE 3 her mother tested negative for COVID-19. Edens wanted a test herself to enter the hospital with Craig but was denied.
“I told them I would take one, suit up; I would do anything I could to come in but I was still not allowed,” Edens said.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Baptist Health and hospitals around the country have implemented temporary visitor restrictions. Although exceptions can be made for “end-of-life” patients at Baptist Health facilities, Craig was not initially considered to be at the “end-of-life.”
Forced to wait in the parking lot, Edens believes she lost the opportunity to oversee her mother’s care.
“When you’re not physically able to be there and be an advocate for your mom or family member who you love dearly, it’s really hard,” Edens said. “You pray and you hope that they are getting the ultimate care, but when you can’t be there you just don’t know.”
On Thursday and Friday, Edens said she was able to talk to doctors over the phone and check-in with Craig via Zoom. All seemed well until Friday evening when Craig’s heart stopped. Edens only learned of her mother’s condition when she called Baptist Health and doctors told her they were administering CPR for the third time.
“I pleaded and asked if we could come then, and he said you can't. Policy, you know, says unless it's end of life and you've terminated her services than you cannot come in,” Edens said.
Edens was eventually allowed to see her mother in the ICU but only after CPR proved ineffective at saving Craig's life. At that moment, she had to consult with family over the phone to decide whether they should discontinue life-sustaining services.
“In the time that she was in the hospital with her mother, I couldn’t be there to love and comfort, to be that support but from the parking lot,” said Edens’ husband Joshua.
Edens is now asking the hospital to change visitation policies for cases like hers in light of other exceptions being made.
“If they can make exceptions for dads coming in to visit mothers and be with mothers while they’re having babies, they should let a family member come in and be with their critical care family member,” she said.
Edens tells WAVE 3 she is now planning her mother's funeral which only ten people can attend to comply with social distancing guidelines. Edens said she doesn’t want anyone to endure the pain she feels following Craig's death.
“Please consider the human touch that a body desires and the fact that there’s no one there to advocate for them the way you would want to and how heartbreaking it is when you have to go in at the last minute," Edens said. “Please, please change your policy.”
Craig is survived by her mother and sister as well as Edens, her husband and their three children.
In a statement, a Baptist Health spokesperson tells WAVE 3 that temporary visitor restrictions to the hospital remain in place.