Hortencia Laurens and family

70-Year-Old Woman Dies Of COVID-19 After Being Turned Away By Two Hospitals

A family is accusing two Florida hospitals of failing to treat a 70-year-old grandmother who had both diabetes and high blood pressure and was showing signs of COVID-19. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the local Memorial Hospital diagnosed Hortencia Laurens with COVID-19 after she was brought in for nausea and digestive issues and then said that she would need to seek care at their Pembroke Pines location.

A few days later, Laurens stopped breathing.

Family members were not permitted to stay with Laurens at the Pembroke hospital, which is standard for COVID-19 cases. However, Laurens did not speak any English and the family says they did not provide her with a Spanish interpreter.

After being admitted on Wednesday evening, Laurens was discharged at 3:45 am. However, they failed to notify the family and the 70-year-old was left sitting on a bench in the dark for over two hours before they found out and rushed over to pick up the still-sick woman.

“How do you do that to somebody that age—just kick her to the curb like that?” said grandson Diego Fereira. “My grandmother, who doesn’t speak English, was denied the proper care and thrown out of the hospital in the middle of the night because she wasn’t able to communicate properly and didn’t know what was going on.”

It wasn’t until Friday that a hospital representative called to ask if Laurens had been safely brought home by her family members.

The grandmother’s condition deteriorated over the weekend and she died in an ambulance on the way back to the hospital at 2 am Monday morning. Her family is now accusing the hospitals of negligence and blaming them for their abuela’s death.

“With the proper care, my grandmother could have fought and beat this virus,” Fereira said. “Due to negligence of this hospital staff, my grandmother lost her life. My family went from planning a vacation to planning my grandmother’s funeral because of this hospital’s negligence. There is no accountability.”

The Memorial Healthcare System has said that they cannot comment on specific cases, but the Broward County medical examiner confirmed that Laurens had died of COVID-19 with underlying, high-risk conditions.

Memorial Healthcare chief medical officer Stanley Marks also released a statement boasting about the hospital’s increasing capacity for COVID-19 patients in spite of the fact that Laurens was discharged so soon after being admitted with symptoms such as fever, chills, and vomiting.

“We are actively extending capacity, in a safe, effective manner to respond to this pandemic,” Marks wrote. “We have instituted tents outside the emergency departments of our hospitals to triage patients who have symptoms.”

Laurens’ family, however, is not impressed, and are demanding accountability from the hospitals that sent her away.

“I don’t want to see anybody else suffer like that,” said Fereira. “Somewhere down the line someone messed up and there’s no accountability. It’s unethical.”