A leading member of the Manchester community was denied nutrition, hydration, and pain relief in the days before he died of Covid-19 in a Manchester hospital, according to his daughter.
The woman, who doesn’t wish to reveal her last name since her mother doesn’t know the full extent of her late husband’s suffering, told The Jewish Press, “My father went into hospital two days before he died because he was very confused. We thought it was diabetes. He tested positive for coronavirus. Diabetes and coronavirus are not a good match.
“It was very frustrating. None of us could do anything as no visitors were allowed. We sent food, but we don’t know if he was given it.”
The following day, the family was told he had taken a turn for the worse and that the hospital had decided not to resuscitate him. They had put him on the “Pathway Care for the dying.” The Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient – which permits withholding water, nutrition, oxygen, and medication like antibiotics and insulin for diabetes – was supposed to have been phased out of the NHS in 2013.
But Rabbi Dovid Kestenbaum, head of Manchester’s Chayim Aruchim, which gives halachic advice on end-of-life issues, told The Jewish Press that he believes the Pathway has merely been “re-branded” and that “many of its worst practices” are still being implemented.
The daughter said, “The hospital didn’t give us a choice of anything and we couldn’t go near.” Initially he was on 45 liters of oxygen, which was then lowered to 15, and then to almost nothing. The family was called the night before the patient died.
The daughter said, “They told us he doesn’t need more oxygen because he was dying anyway. He wasn’t even attached to anything. They had promised us on the phone that they would keep him attached to everything, including pain relief, because he had a very high fever. He was boiling hot. You could see that. He had no drips of liquid or antibiotics. His labored breathing will traumatize me forever.”
(The family visited him shortly before his death; such visits are only allowed if the hospital determines that a patient is dying.)
The family phoned Rabbi Kestenbaum, who persuaded the hospital to insert hydration under his skin, but it was too late and the patient died an hour later.
Rabbi Kestenbaum told The Jewish Press, “I was on the phone with the hospital an hour before he died and they had not given him any fluids. They agreed to give them then. The family had discussed other interventions like a ventilator and the hospital had not agreed. He had not had hydration for a good time. It was a very sad case.”
He added: “There was very little excuse for lack of care. If patients pass the coronavirus crisis, they could live. They should not have said that he was definitely dying.”
Shofar Blowing Is Now Legal
Shofars can be blown legally inside synagogues on Rosh Hashanah.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions it was previously thought that shofar blowing would only be allowed outside. But under new government guidelines, which came into force this week, instruments can be blown in places of worship provided they are thoroughly cleaned before and after.
Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl said, “This will be welcome news across the Jewish community.”
She urged everyone to observe all health regulations in place.