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Positive coronavirus case doesn't allegedly stop discharge order at Maryland hospital

A Montgomery Co. woman claims her 70-year-old mother was ordered to be discharged from a hospital despite a coronavirus diagnosis and her concerns over home care.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Days after testing positive for coronavirus, the daughter of a patient at Holy Cross Hospital says her mother has been discharged from the facility despite her concerns with health issues and receiving home care.

Dawn Aumiller told WUSA on Sunday that her 70-year-old mother, Eleanor Hughes, has been dealing with various health issues since February.

"She has not had enough therapy and hasn't healed enough to be able to stand up and walk around," Aumiller said. "She can do some things but most things that she’s used to doing she can’t do.”

After being admitted to Holy Cross Hospital on Tuesday following signs of fatigue and shortness of breath, Aumiller said tests done at the hospital showed her mother had coronavirus.

However, despite the diagnosis, Aumiller was shocked when health workers ordered her mother to be discharged from the medical facility.

WASHINGTON - More than 140,000 Marylanders - and more than 1.5 million Virginians - live in a county without any ICU beds, according to an analysis of hospital data conducted by WUSA9. Those numbers include more than 33,000 Marylanders and more than 400,000 Virginians over the age of 60.

"They’re trying to send her home to an empty apartment," Aumiller claimed. "I didn’t understand how knowing that she’s incapable of caring for herself and knowing that she’s positive that they could discharge her."

Following the allegations, WUSA reached out to Holy Cross Hospital.

While the hospital could not comment on an individual case, staff said it was not uncommon for someone to be discharged after testing positive for coronavirus if they showed they were well enough to go home.  

"Each individual is assessed for readiness for discharge – and that assessment includes both physical and social readiness," Chief Strategy Officer Kristin Feliciano wrote. "In many cases, including COVID-19, if a patient is stable – and in the case of COVID-19 asymptomatic or expressing mild symptoms, the most appropriate place for them is likely not the hospital.

Feliciano added that all patients undergo a strict analysis to determine the level of care needed after they leave the hospital.

"The team works with the patient and their family to determine the right location for discharge," she wrote. "That could include a nursing facility, home or even home with support of home care.  We want to ensure that the individual has access to food, their medications, and the necessary follow-up care among other discharge needs."

Kaiser Permanente, the insurance provider for Hughes, also sent WUSA a statement and said discharging a patient is a decision made carefully.

"When we discharge a patient from the hospital with COVID or any other condition, the decision is made by the care team members based on the patient’s condition and care needs," the statement read. "The patient should be stable and meet other criteria based on his or her illness/condition. In many cases, including COVID, a hospital is not the best place for a stable patient. He or she is likely more comfortable at home.While there are patients with COVID who need to be hospitalized due to the serious nature of their illness, many COVID patients are safer and more comfortable at home where they can isolate and be closely monitored through the virtual home care program."

The company added that it provides resources like a virtual home care program, in-person support and remote monitoring to patients.

As of Sunday night, Hughes was still at Holy Cross Hospital receiving care after tests showed a high heart beat and low blood pressure.

Aumiller said her mother will be reevaluated for discharge on Monday.

Moving forward, she planned to keep appealing the discharge orders to make sure her mother could receive care.

"She cannot be on her own. She cannot walk. She cannot stand," Aumiller said. "You have to be able to function to be alone. My mother can’t.” 

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