Family mourns loss of woman who died from COVID-19 complications, pushes for compassionate exceptions

A Minnesota family is mourning after their loved one died from COVID-19 complications. Now, they hope others in their position can get compassionate exceptions to bring home loved ones as they live their final hours.

Ginger Gese, her sister Lisa Entleutner, and their large extended family have just been through a nightmare, saying goodbye to their loving mom, grandmother, and great grandmother.

Carol Geretschlaeger, 80, died a week ago from COVID-19 complications.

“It’s just so surreal, I just can’t believe she’s not here,” Ginger said.

Like so many of the fatal pandemic statistics, Carol resided in a long-term care facility - Edgewood Healthcare in Blaine. She was in the memory unit with Alzheimer’s when she fell ill a couple of weeks ago.

“I was on the call when they had said her temperature was at that point it was critical,” Ginger said.

Carol ended up at the hospital when it became clear she wasn’t going to beat the deadly virus. 

Ginger and Lisa put up a fight to bring their mother home to die. They raced to find all the personal protective equipment they could and received a rare waiver. Carol was brought by ambulance to Ginger’s home in Andover for hospice care. 

She was given a neighborhood parade before taking her final breaths hours later, surrounded by close family.

“I’m not going to have my mom spend her last days alone behind a glass window. We are going to hold her and love her and give her the most compassionate, loving goodbye that we could,” Ginger said.

Given the sisters’ experience at the end, they are pushing for other families to get compassionate exceptions to bring home loved ones.

They also want to hammer home the point that COVID-19 is nothing to mess around with. They feel they’ve had years stolen from them with their mother, who loved adventures even as she struggled with memory loss.

They’ll never forget how quickly she went after the virus took hold, and are urging all senior living facilities to do more to stop the spread of the highly contagious disease.

“It just happened so fast. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to have her back, just to tell her that I love her and see that smile again.” 

Statement on behalf of Dr. Aaron Moorhouse, DO, Executive Vice President/Chief Medical Officer for Edgewood Health Services Division:

Our thoughts go out to the residents and families of all congregate and senior living communities during this time, as together we’ve all been faced with the many challenges this pandemic has created.

At Edgewood Healthcare our number one priority has always been and will continue to be the health and safety of our residents and staff. We continually follow CDC guidelines and collaborate with the Minnesota Department of Health in a consistent and on-going effort to further enhance safety measures during this ever-changing situation.