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Elderly woman buried under wrong name after COVID ward misidentification

CM 05/09/2021

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An 86-year-old woman from Ashkelon died of coronavirus in a nursing home in Bnei Brak and was mistakenly buried under a different name before her family even knew of her illness, Israeli media reported on Sunday.
Chaya Freeman, who suffered from dementia, was a resident of a Neot Avi elderly facility in Ashkelon, but was transferred to a different facility when Neot Avi experienced an outbreak of coronavirus among its residents. Another elderly woman was transferred alongside Chaya and both were placed in the same room under coronavirus restrictions of the facility.
A few days after her arrival, Chaya passed away from COVID-19 complications, but the facility mistakenly reported her roommate as the deceased. The dramatic oversight led to the 86-year-old being transferred and even buried under the wrong name, believed to have no family to call, and had no relatives at her funeral.

Meanwhile, Chaya’s family believed she was on the mend, as caregivers at the Vatikim facility in Bnei Brak assured them that their grandmother was eating and communicating, believing her to be the second woman who came from Ashkelon.

Elderly hand (illustrative) (credit: PIXABAY)Elderly hand (illustrative) (credit: PIXABAY)

Only three days after the fact, the facility realized their error when the supposedly dead woman was photographed receiving a holiday gift for Rosh Hashana. That’s when a social worker contacted the family, explaining that “something strange” had happened, and that Chaya passed away.
“It’s been a few days since we found out… it’s a nightmare,” Elian Fitusi, Chaya’s grandson, told Walla! news. “They said there was a mix-up with someone else’s name and that my grandmother was already buried in Beer Sheva. We didn’t even understand what we were hearing. Our souls are burning to know what she went through.”
The Vatikim nursing home in Bnei Brak is blaming the facility responsible for transferring her, Neot Avi, for the tragedy. As both women were elderly and suffering from dementia, their identification was based upon a name tag bracelet such as the one worn by all residents. The staff at Vatikim charged Neot Avi with placing the wrong ID on the women they sent, thus causing the error.
Due to the fact that the patient was diagnosed with coronavirus and was permitted no visitors, only the staff at the Bnei Brak home saw her and signed her death certificate. Until the moment of burial, nobody else saw the body.
Dr. Irit Laxer, head of geriatrics in the Health Ministry, responded to the sad affair by reviewing the protocol regarding identification of deceased residents in nursing homes and imposed a requirement that a family member identify the body in case of death.
“The Health Ministry investigations committee will examine the severe, unfortunate case of a misidentification in the burial of an elderly woman who passed away from corona,” the Health Ministry responded. “The Health Ministry will continue to assist the family in anything necessary.”
The family demanded the extraction of the body and an autopsy examination at the L. Greenberg Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir in Tel Aviv, hoping to bury her in Ashkelon under her own name soon. “We’ve already missed the Shiva, at least we’ll say kaddish.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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