CHICAGO (CBS) — As the list of families touched by the coronavirus grows, a doctor whose father just died from the virus has some incredibly powerful advice and insight into what it’s like to be kept from the hospital, never meeting the physicians, all while trying to help steer medical decisions to keep a loved one alive.
“They held the phone up to his ear‚ and I was able to talk to him for a few minutes before he passed,” said Dr. Megan Landwerlen. “It’s not ideal.”
Her dad was a fixture at the Moody Church in Chicago every week and the Indy 500 every year back to 1945. The Evanston native died this week at the age of 83.
Megan, one of his two daughters, became a doctor. She spoke with CBS 2 from her practice in Indy, in the same way she had to help steer her father’s treatment — from afar.
“Thats the most heartbreaking thing about COVID — no visitors,” she said. “And you can’t be with your loved ones, and if they do pass away you cant be there when that happens.”
Uncharted medical waters are being complicated by a constant churn of different doctors because of sheer demand.
“One of the differences that I found was usually when you have a loved one in the hospital, you’ll have a certain team that you always work with and get updates from,” Megan said. “Right now because of the shortage and also to prevent exposure, they have people in shifts. It was a different doctor I talked to every day.”
That means varying philosophies and a sliding scale of willingness to take what she saw as needed risks.
“Just being willing to treat the patient not completely relying on evidence because because we don’t have evidence” she said. “It’s too new. My biggest regret was I didn’t feel as though every effort was made to save his life. I don’t blame anybody. I feel like everybody is scared. Everybody is overwhelmed. But in this particular situation based on what I was hearing is going on in other parts of the country and different institutions, I felt nothing like nothing was being done, and that was hard.”
Megan doesn’t hold any animosity toward any of the medical professionals that cared for her dad. She says the nurses who went in to hold the phone up to her dads ear took a risk in doing that.
But there are simply different approaches from different medical professionals. Some are more willing to take risks. Others are totally dependent on data. She says the problem with COVID-19 is there hasn’t been time to do the research because this is so new.