Construction workers in Florida helped a Florida teenager say goodbye to her mother, who was dying in a hospital of COVID-19 and unable to have visitors.
“My last words to my mom were through a FaceTime call, and I hope that no child has to go through that,” Jayden Arbelaez, 17, told First Coast News.
Her mother, Michelle Arbelaez, died of COVID-19 August 8 – 15 days after she was first admitted to Ascension St. Vincent’s Southside Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, First Coast News reported. She was 53 years old.
The day before her mother died, Arbelaez waited outside the hospital for an hour while her father was inside the hospital visiting her. Just one person was allowed in the hospital room at a time, First Coast News reported.
“Then I looked up and there were construction workers,” Jayden told the outlet. “I told them the situation. I said, ‘My mom was going to die. Is there any way that I can get to that window?'”
The construction workers gave her safety gear, including a hard hat, and led her up to the roof of the building so she could reach her mother’s hospital room window, according to First Coast News.
“I’m visiting with my wife, playing worship music, praying for her, stroking her hair, telling her I love her,” Jayden’s father, Mitch Arbelaez, told the outlet. “And I hear a knock on the window and there’s Jayden in a hard hat, a safety vest, rubber boots.”
The family prayed together over the phone, they told the outlet.
“It was sad that I couldn’t be there to hold her hand in that last day, those last hours, but at least being able to, you know, look in the window and see her and see my dad, I was very grateful to those construction workers,” Jayden said, according to First Coast News.
The family is some of the hundreds of people calling for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to intervene in allowing families to visit family members who are in the hospital, dying of COVID-19, First Coast News reported.
“I don’t think any disease or transmissible disease should keep loved ones away when they’re in those critical stages. I don’t think that is that is right,” Mitch told First Coast News.
The hospital defended its policy in a statement. to First Coast News.
“We do everything possible to accommodate visitors within the parameters of our current policies and procedures, which are in place for everyone’s safety, and we did so in this case, with family members being permitted to visit multiple times over multiple days, a spokesperson for Ascension St. Vincent’s Southside Hospital said.
They added: “The health and safety of our patients, associates, and visitors are our top priorities. We have rigorous infection prevention protocols in place at all times that are based on guidance from government health officials including the CDC and Florida Department of Health. We are routinely adjusting our protocols and policies during this rapidly evolving situation.”