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Indianola woman: 'Why wasn't my 91-year-old father tested for COVID-19?'

An Indianola woman's father went to the hospital Sunday with severe chest pain. He was discharged hours later without getting tested for the coronavirus.

INDIANOLA, Iowa — A nighttime call from her father’s senior care facility in Indianola Sunday night was just the beginning of Annette Bierkamp’s night of no sleep.

"They told me they are going to be taking my dad to the hospital by ambulance because he has severe chest pain," Annette Bierkamp said. 

Her 91-year-old father, Frank Burton, was rushed to MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center.

Burton, who has kidney disease and heart disease, was treated in the area of the E.R. where COVID-19 patients are given care. Because of that, Annette was told she wouldn’t be allowed in to see her father.

"They told me, 'yup he’s on the COVID side [of the hospital]. We’re running lab tests and doing a chest x-ray,' " Annette said. 

Burton was diagnosed with pneumotitis: lung tissue inflammation that results in difficulty breathing. 

Hours later, around 3:30 a.m., Annette received a call from the hospital that they were discharging her father. When she arrived to pick him up, after reading the discharge papers, she found that Burton was not tested for COVID-19.

Credit: Provided to WOI from Annette Bierkamp

"They didn’t do a COVID test because they said he didn’t meet the guidelines. And I went, what? He came from a nursing home that has a positive case. I was just really disappointed that they exposed Dad on the COVID-19 side and then not test him," Annette said. 

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Upon reentry to his care facility, Good Samaritan in Indianola, Burton was moved out of his room and put into quarantine, per IDPH guidelines (shown in picture below).

Credit: MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center

As her father’s medical power of attorney, Annette wanted answers as to why her father wasn't tested at the hospital, since he has underlying health conditions and is over 90 years old.

Annette provided Local 5 news with her father's discharge papers.

Over the phone, MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center confirmed with Local 5 that they provided Burton care consistent with IDPH and CDC guidelines. 

Though they admitted him to the area of the hospital where physicians are prepared and protected in order to treat COVID-19 patients, there they determined he didn’t meet the criteria for a test, despite concerns such as Burton's age and his history with underlying health conditions.

In an email, Gregg Lagan, the media relations coordinator for MercyOne Des Moines said that the testing criteria were not the reason that Burton was admitted.

Now Annette’s dad is in quarantine at his care facility where he will get tested for COVID-19, per IDPH guidelines. He's in a different room with limited clothing, and will be tested on his third day upon reentry.

"He says I don’t have my toiletries, they gave me all new toiletries! I told him that's probably because they don't want you to be infected," Annette said. 

The whole situation taking a toll on Annette, who says she tried reaching out to the MercyOne Des Moines patient advocate twice and left voicemails to no reply.

For now, all she can do is pray that her dad stays healthy.

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