Man says restrictions kept him from seeing ill wife before her death

Woman died at Baptist Medical Center after 6 year battle with cancer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man says he was unable to see his wife and the mother of her children before she died due to rules that were created at a hospital amid the cornavirus pandemic.

Charles Deringer’s 57-year-old wife, Lisa, died at Baptist Medical Center downtown after her six year battle with ovarian cancer. They were together for 40 years.

“She was a selfless person that always looked out after other people and always put others before her. She always put her kids first," Deringer said.

Over a four day period, Deringer said the rules kept him and his wife apart, preventing him from being by her side as she took her last breath.

“I never got the opportunity to be with my bride, the one that I love so dearly in this world, and I was robbed basically of having that time with her, and she died alone with nobody to be there to hold her hand, nobody to be there with a touch of somebody that she knew and loved," Deringer said.

Breathing issues and an accelerated heart rate led to his wife’s hospitalization on March 6. The hospital enforced its new restrictions a week ago due to COVID-19.

Because his wife wasn’t terminal at the time, Deringer said the hospital wouldn’t allow him to stay with her.

“I kept calling the doctors and nurses to check on her and kept asking whether or not I can be admitted because I wanted to stay with her," Deringer said. “I told them that I wouldn’t have to leave, that I could stay there to comfort her and they refused.”

Deringer said his wife was alone and scared, and expressed her fear to a friend in a text message.

“She said, 'I’m praying to feel better. This is the worst part I’ve ever felt. The worst part is when I move. I can’t breathe and I’m all alone in this hospital room. I’m so tired of crying," Deringer said.

On Monday, Deringer got a call saying his wife was in the intensive care unit and that he could see her because her conditioned changed.

By the time he got to the hospital, it was too late.

“This should not happen to anybody else,” Deringer said. “I can’t bring my wife back, and I can’t bring back the time that I lost with her, but no one, no one should have to suffer how we suffered and no one should have to die alone.”

A statement from Baptist Health reads:

"The entire Baptist Health family is a saddened by the loss of Lisa Deringer; particularly her care team, who did what they could to notify her family in time. They feel devastated that the Derringer family was unable to be with her. The visitation restrictions put in place due to coronavirus are meant to protect our patients, not separate them from their loved ones during their final hours.

“This highly unusual situation is not a reflection of our care team’s deep sense of compassion nor does it reflect our mission or values. We have offered our sincerest condolences to Charles Deringer and his family, along with the comfort and support of our bereavement and spiritual care teams.”

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