GILBERT, Ariz. - Another heartbreaking impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a man says he couldn't be next to his wife as she passed away Sunday morning at the hospital.
Her death was not caused by the virus, but new visitation policies at Banner Health due to the pandemic didn't allow him to see his wife.
According to Banner Health policy, if your loved one is at the end of life, they get one visit from one person for one hour.
“They stated that the only way I was gonna be able to be let in the hospital is if she was disconnected and dying," Stephen Suida says.
After a brain aneurism and multiple strokes, his wife Cassandra didn't have much time left. He says staff at Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert would not let him visit until it was too late.
The two married in 2007.
On Sunday morning, he let their daughter take that one hour visit instead as he said goodbye on FaceTime.
“I had to sit on the porch and watch my wife die on a cell phone and now the only thing I can do is be there for the family because I couldn’t even say goodbye, except for over a screen," Suida says.
Exceptions regarding visitor restrictions include patients under 18 having one adult see them per day, mothers in labor can have one support person with them and under certain conditions, patients at the end of their life get a one hour visit from one adult.
Suida wishes he could have been with his wife in quarantine all along.
“If they can come out in scrubs and a face mask just to yell at me to tell me that I can’t go in there and they can go right back in there to throw on a gown and they’re OK,” Suida said.
Now a widower, Suida says hes been by his wife's side through all her health issues.
This time the COVID-19 era tragically changed that.
“This was the only time in our whole marriage that I was not able to be there for her and it made me break my promise,” Suida says.
Even more frustrating for this family, he says police escorted them off hospital property as they pleaded for a visit Saturday.