CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Medical Supplies like hospital beds are critical during the coronavirus outbreak. However, a Charlotte woman says what happened to her family the day her husband died last week is hard to imagine.
What started out as an act of kindness with a rented bed for her dying husband ended in a nightmare and a plea to WBTV Investigates for help.
“They offered their condolences but the next thing that was coming out of their mouth was you need to deliver this bed,” said 75-year-old Fleta Kirby.
Her husband Robert, after a painful three-year battle with bone cancer, passed away April 14.
“It was devastating. I got upset, I really did, because I had just lost my sweetheart and I didn’t understand why someone could be so insensitive,” Kirby said.
Kirby claims that within hours of Robert’s death, she started receiving calls from PACE of the Southern Piedmont, a not-for-profit that provides medical devices and care for the elderly, to return their rental bed - the same bed her husband had just died in.
“They said I needed to get the bed to them. But it’s a hospital bed, it’s very, very heavy, and no one knows how to break the bed down, you need a professional person,” Kirby said.
Kirby was emotional over the loss of her husband and says that she tried explaining that as a senior citizen, she had no way to return the bed, and since PACE originally delivered the bed, she thought they would pick it up.
But over the next few days, the calls kept coming, demanding she return the bed.
“It like harassment when they were saying it to me those several times, it was like, you know, we’re not going to come and get it, you need to bring it to us,” Kirby said.
The 75-year old woman, with no way to physically get a truck to transport the heavy hospital bed to PACE, was at a loss.
“I just want them to come pick the bed up and make it a little easier for me,” Kirby said.
Frustrated and concerned, Kirby’s daughter this week contacted WBTV Investigates asking help. WBTV contacted PACE of the Southern Piedmont to see if we could get this issue resolved for the family.
PACE declined an on-camera interview. However in a written statement to WBTV, they indicated:
“We are removing the hospital bed in question from the family’s home today. First and foremost, we are very sorry for the loss that the family is experiencing. PACE of the Southern Piedmont takes great pride in delivering stellar service to our participants and their families. These are unprecedented times during the COVID19 crisis which we must balance not only serving these needs but also doing so in a way that best ensures the health and safety of everyone involved – including client’s families and our staff. Our commitment to safety is the only reason we were unable to remove the bed in our normal timely fashion. We offered to receive the bed from the family if they had the means to deliver it to us – otherwise, we were obligated to delay entry into the home to collect it ourselves out of concern for their safety and that of our team. It is a privilege to serve families during their time of greatest need, and it is regrettable that this particular situation was made more difficult by circumstances beyond our control. Our primary goal is to provide quality service safely for all involved, especially during this COVID-19 outbreak throughout our community.”
Kirby says hours after our interview, PACE suddenly showed up with a large truck to pick up the bed.
She still doesn’t understand how a 75-year-old woman was supposed to transport a hospital bed to them.
“I just thank God for you and WBTV for helping," Kirby said. “I just thank God for you all that you were there for me and advocated for us.”
The situation appears to have been a misunderstanding, but we are glad to have helped resolve the issue.