Family concerned about dad’s well-being at Fenton hospital over visitation rules


FENTON, Mo. – A local family is desperate to see their dad, who is in the hospital after suffering a stroke. But with COVID-19 rules in place, they cannot.

Cheryl Etling says she’s frustrated and sad. She wants to be bedside with her 85-year-old father, James Etling, who suffered a stroke on Father’s Day and now can’t speak. But current hospital protocol is preventing her from doing so.

“We get a call. It’s a brain bleed. The worst one you can have. A lot of pressure on the brain,” Cheryl said.

James was taken to SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Fenton. Cheryl was able to call him. However, she says a nurse gave him the phone and then left to check other patients.

“I said, ‘Dad, how are you doing?’ He said, ‘She makes a weird sound.’ My brother got on phone and he did same thing,” Cheryl said. “My dad could talk. I said, ‘Call the nurse and tell them dad is having a stroke.’”

Cheryl says nurses can’t stay with her dad because they have other patients. She says he can’t press his emergency button to call for help if he needs it. But she can.

Fox 2 reached out to St. Clare Hospital. They gave us the following response:

We understand it can be hard for families to not be able to visit their loved ones in the hospital. we are continually evaluating the spread of the virus and expect that soon we will be easing our visitation guidelines. Every decision we make related to visitation policies is rooted in safeguarding our patients, visitors, caregivers, and the community.

Cheryl worries her father could suffer another stroke and die at the hospital. She’s left to wait and pray for his recovery and hope the hospital eases its visitation restrictions.

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