My father, Dr Harold Gaya, was an eminent infectious diseases specialist who in the 1970s helped eliminate smallpox. Last Monday, he became the fourth person in his north London care home to lose his life to Covid-19.
The past few weeks have been extremely difficult for my family as we have battled to keep him safe. I am a consultant oncologist so early on I was acutely aware of the effects this virus would have on people with comorbidities. My father was 79, had heart problems, diabetes and advanced dementia. I knew if he contracted the virus he would likely die.
The ceiling of care for Covid patients over 70 with medical problems is very low. They get oxygen and other supportive care, but that’s usually as far as it goes. They are essentially rationed out of intensive care because of a lack of ventilators.
三级成人视频I last saw my dad three weeks ago, when I insisted to the manager that he should be isolated. Residents were still being brought out to sit in the day room and at that point none of the staff wore PPE. If someone went down with it I knew it would be impossible to stop the spread.
We had a conversation with the care home about the ceiling of care should he come down with the virus. We agreed he’d be given oxygen and that would be as far as it would go. They asked us to make a do not resuscitate order.
They kept him in his room at our request, but it was a week before they isolated the other residents, by which time the numbers of cases around the country were rising at terrifying speed.
Even now, the PPE they have is completely inadequate for such a vulnerable group of patients. They have standard gloves, plastic aprons and a mask. It’s really not enough. If these residents develop Covid-19, the majority will die, so immense effort needs to be made to stop them catching it in the first place.
三级成人视频Once visiting was stopped we had no way of telling how strictly they were adhering to the rules. We didn’t even know how well he was being looked after because many of the staff were off sick.
I don’t bear any ill will against the care home, they were doing the best they could in an impossible situation, and they should have been given stricter regulations and much better help and PPE.
三级成人视频10 days ago we got a call to say dad was drowsy and off his food. He was initially diagnosed with a urine infection. By the following afternoon he was struggling with his breathing.
Paramedics were called who assessed him and decided they should bring him in. He was taken to Northwick Park Hospital to be tested and treated with high flow oxygen.
One person was allowed to visit which of course I understand but it was upsetting for us all, especially as the minute they took him in I knew he wouldn’t make it.
三级成人视频On the Sunday, we were informed that dad was nearing the end of his life and my mother was permitted a final 20 minutes with him. He passed away the following morning.
There have, we now know, been many deaths which have not been counted among the statistics, as these are people who died in their care homes. I’m glad, at least, that dad’s death will be counted as he was in hospital. The vast majority won’t be, and that is truly a disgrace. The official death figure is the tip of the iceberg.
Dad’s funeral two days later was distressing due to restrictions on the number of attendees and our inability to be able to console each other. I couldn’t hug my mum, and it didn’t feel like I’d properly said goodbye to my father.
A memorial held on Zoom a few days later brought some comfort. We said psalms, my brother read a beautiful poem and I read a eulogy. It brought a small amount of closure, but I couldn’t shake the feeling I wasn’t doing right by him.
He, of course, would have understood entirely, and the irony of his life being claimed by an infectious disease would not have been lost on him. I imagine he is chuckling about that now.
三级成人视频Dad was a compassionate and caring man, known to his colleagues as “Harry the Bug”. He cared deeply for his family and was passionate about his work at the forefront of infectious diseases.
If he were here he would agree that if we are to protect our NHS and alleviate the pressure on hospitals, we have to safeguard care homes where residents are so at risk. We have to protect vulnerable elderly people, and we have to do it now.
As told to Eleanor Steafel