The family of the Watson Lake man who died at home after contracting COVID-19 is expressing outrage that he wasn’t admitted to the hospital.
Michael Foubister, 69, died late last October. He and his partner, Mary Eckel, who works at a local motel, contracted the virus mid-October.
Michael’s daughter, Elizabeth Foubister, told the News that she was angered when she learned after her father’s passing that he was instructed to self-isolate at home once he tested positive.
“My dad had lots of underlying health issues that, to me, are big red flags, especially with COVID,” Foubister said.
She explained that her father had chronic lung disease, asthma and heart problems.
“At first I thought maybe my dad was stubborn and he didn’t want to go to a doctor … but it wasn’t like that at all,” Foubister said.
Michael and his partner had visited a locum doctor in Watson Lake who instructed them to stay home and isolate while sick with COVID-19. Someone checked in with them via phone once per day.
About 10 days after testing positive, Michael’s symptoms worsened.
“He wasn’t eating, he had no appetite, and he was really lethargic and tired all the time. Mary had told the doctors this, and they didn’t even come and check on him at the house,” Foubister said.
“She called and said, ‘Hey, he’s not doing well,’ and they said, ‘If it’s still like this tomorrow, give us a call.’ Well, he died.”
Michael’s partner discovered his body the following day, which Foubister said was extremely traumatizing. Foubister suggested that if he had been admitted to the hospital, it could have contributed to a more humanizing end of life.
“I don’t have any illusions that he would have lived if he was at the hospital, but that’s where he should have been, and being watched,” she said.
“Maybe he would have taken a turn for the worse, and they might have been able to help, or they might not have, but at least Mary wouldn’t have to be traumatized from finding his body.”
An autopsy wasn’t done after the family requested one, due to concern of virus spread.
“They figure he probably had a blood clot … but we won’t ever really know what happened,” Foubister said.
Foubister, who lives in Dawson City, began seeking answers to the methodology behind her father’s care after his death. She spoke with their family doctor, and then a representative from the COVID-19 response team, but nobody was able to give her any answers.
“I’m just so angry, and outraged, and I want other people to know that this is how I feel the medical system is flawed, and failed us as a family, and might potentially fail other people,” Foubister said.
Foubister explained that she wished the stay-at-home order was less of a blanket policy for people with COVID-19, and that her father’s underlying medical issues had been taken into account earlier. When his symptoms worsened, there should have been a faster re-evaluation, given how quickly the virus can progress.
Once he died, Foubister hoped there would have been better mechanisms for allowing family to say goodbyes and for performing an autopsy, both of which would have contributed to a more humanizing process for the entire family.
Foubister remembers her father as quiet, clever and a great story-teller. He worked as a locksmith at campground services up until his death.
In an email to the News, Department of Health and Social Services spokesperson Pat Living said she was unable to comment on Michael Foubister’s individual case.
“This was a very sad event, one that we all felt quite deeply and personally but that doesn’t allow us to release personal health information,” Living said.
General questions about the territory’s policies for hospitalizing COVID-19 patients were not answered by press time.
Contact Gabrielle Plonka at email@example.com