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Orange County family wants to see dying relative, hospital says 'no' due to COVID-19 restrictions

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Family can't see dying loved one in hospital due to covid restrictions
Posted at 10:45 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 03:22:52-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — An Orange County family is seeking answers from a local Bakersfield hospital tonight after they say the hospital told them they could visit a dying loved one, but have since changed their mind due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The family told 23ABC their father is currently in the hospital after having a stroke, and that his time is limited, which is why this family is desperately fighting to be by his side before that time comes.

“I don't understand just like let me say my goodbyes.”

Catherine Garniere says her father was admitted to Mercy Hospital Southwest on Wednesday due to a stroke, and that nurses told the Ganiere siblings that their father is in grave condition.

“He is not going to make it to Christmas, right, when we were face to face she would pull out paperwork and say he's not expected to live very long.”

Due to his condition, Garniere says the hospital told her she could visit her father, so she flew in from Utah, but now she says the hospital won’t let her in due to visitor restrictions from COVID-19.

“I just don't understand, you said we can see him, so why can't we see him?”

Graniere says she's getting very little communication from the hospital, and she just wants answers as the family remains at a standstill.

“I've called, no one will call me back. The hospital administrator won't call me back.”

She says the last they heard from nurses was on Sunday that their father opened his eyes.

23ABC reached out to Mercy but have not heard back at this time. In a statement to 23ABC, the state public health department said "Visitors are essential to the mental health of patients who are at end-of-life."

Graniere says they let one of the nine siblings visit a couple of times, but haven't let anyone else, and the Public Health Department goes on to write "For their continued mental health and well-being, CDPH recommends that one visitor be allowed to be present with the patient; a single visitor does not need to be designated, provided that only one visitor is present at a time."

The Garniere siblings are frustrated, they say they keep getting redirected with no answers, but if they get the green light for the visit, they’ll be ready.

“I would hop in my car and I would drive the 2.5 - 3 hours to see him, even if it's only for 5 minutes.”

The family also says their mother who is currently at an assisted living facility in Bakersfield also has not received any updates on her husband.

They contacted the Governor's Office on this issue, but were told to go through our local Public Health Department to file a complaint. When 23ABC's Kylie Walker reached out to our local Public Health Department, they told her to contact the hospital. The Mercy Southwest has yet to respond.

We were told Mayor Karen Goh also reached out to executives with the hospital to get in contact with the Vice President.