‘She couldn’t even walk’: Woman says 78-year-old mother with COVID-19 was discharged from hospital to make room for sicker patients

Healthcare leaders across the Carolinas say hospital beds are scarce.
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:34 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2021 at 8:13 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A South Carolina woman says she believes her 78-year-old mother, who tested positive for COVID, was discharged too soon, in order to make space for other patients.

Healthcare leaders across the Carolinas say hospital beds are scarce. The Atrium Health hospital system is just one of the systems in our area experiencing an influx of patients.

Home security video shows the moment 78-year-old Olive Klang returned home after a night in the emergency room at Atrium Health Pineville.

Klang was fully vaccinated, but positive for COVID-19 and C. Diff Colitis, which is a bacterium causing severe diarrhea. She was too weak to walk on her own, but still discharged from the hospital.

“They said it’s time for her to go home and when my husband picked her up my mom said ‘I told them I wasn’t ready to go home and they said I’m sorry ma’am but we need beds,’” her daughter Barb Strait told WBTV.

According to Atrium Health, hospitals are being strained by unvaccinated people.

Data last week shows a 61 percent increase in patients on life support across the Atrium Health system. There were 246 of these patients and 96 percent of them were unvaccinated.

Strait says the entire family tested positive for COVID-19, so she was sick at home at the time of her mother’s discharge.

A few days later, she would call 911 for her mother again. This time she was taken to Piedmont Medical Center, where she remains almost a week later.

After completing her quarantine, she was able to visit her.

“You see all kinds of sad, sad stories and they don’t have families,” she said. “I talked to a patient through the door because she just wanted someone to talk to.”

She says this time around she is fighting to ensure her mother gets the care she needs. She says she recently learned that if you feel your loved one is not ready for discharge, you can contact Medicare to investigate the case, which takes at least 24 hours.

“If I knew how bad she still was, I wouldn’t have let her leave the hospital,” she said.

She is also trying to get her mother a fecal transplant, which she says has been delayed by COVID as well.

Atrium Health did not provide details on bed capacity, but a spokesperson said in a statement:

“As part of the discharge process, Atrium Health screens every patient to establish an individual safe plan for discharge. It is not uncommon to connect a patient with additional community resources for follow up care, which could include but is not limited to, Atrium Health’s Hospital at Home program.”

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