By Marica Micallef
It was already extremely painful to have my father hospitalized with these stupid and mediocre restrictions, making it harder for him to have support, and harder for us to be away from him!
It was double the pain when my father was put in ITU (Intensive Therapy Unit) on the ventilator and being told that he is on the brink of death three times in a span of 5 weeks!
The last thing we wanted is to find some of his possessions missing! When my father was hospitalised, he was wearing his hearing aid, his upper and lower dentures and the wedding ring, which he has never removed since he married back in 1975. When I was allowed to see him behind a glass pane in ITU 6, the Infectious Disease Unit, on the 22nd of October, one of the nurses in charge informed me that it took them quite a lot of effort to remove his wedding ring since his fingers were swollen. When I asked where the ring and all dad’s belongings are, she informed me that everything was in his bag. When I asked if I could take this bag back home, she told me that belongings of Covid-19 patients can be taken away when the patient passes away, is dismissed from ITU 6 or hospital itself.
Apparently now, even bags are becoming infectious and when dad was shifted from ITU 6 to ITU 1, I still cannot understand how come we were then allowed to take the bag! Had they kept the poor bag quarantined to clear off the virus and other diseases or kept it longer until dad was finally out, or being given the bag before he was admitted to ITU 6, would have made more sense. In ITU 6, ALL PATIENTS, included my dad, are stripped from everything, even from their dignity! They are made to wear a nappy and the hospital blue pyjama. The three times I visited, crying with my face stuck to the glass pane and begging dad to wake up, my eyes used to go on the other patients too and my heart missed a lot of beats.
When my dad was then transferred to ITU 1, my mother and brother were given the bag. When both opened it, they found dad’s clothes, his hearing aid, the upper dentures and wallet. But both his wedding ring and lower dentures were missing. We informed the hospital staff immediately. Weeks passed and these were not returned. When I asked for assistance at Mater Dei Customer Care, I was informed to send an email to the Billing Section, since these are usually given a patient’s possessions. And so, on the 30th of November 2020, I sent the email, and another reminder on the 11th of December, since there was no reply yet!
On the 15th of December, the Billing Section replied that the office has never received my father’s belongings. The office informed Customer Care and personnel from both sections, did a good search in ITU. Still, my dad’s belongings, were not found.
The last statement I wanted to hear on the phone was that ideally, patients are admitted to hospital without any belongings…yeah right! So, with my dad unwell and quarantined, with us not being allowed to neither go next to him nor touch him, hospital expected us to, in that state of panic, tell dad before he went on the ambulance “Dad, give us the ring, teeth and hearing aid please!” Following advice from my lawyer, I filed a police report, keeping my lawyer informed. When my lawyer asked me what did the police tell me, I told her that they just told me to pick up a hardcopy of the report and did not inform me about any follow-up or action they will be taking! So now my lawyer will have to liaise with the police to inform them what to do!