Chicago coronavirus patient's family upset by doctor's voicemail

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thursday, May 7, would have been Fernando Diaz's 52nd birthday, but the beloved Chicagoan died this week after a lengthy battle with COVID-19. His family says their sadness over his death is compounded by concerns following a voicemail they received from one of his doctors.

Diaz - a brother, uncle, nephew - died Sunday; a Chicagoan who is deeply loved and deeply missed.

"This is my only brother, to not have him anymore is heartbreaking," said Norma Diaz Rodriguez, Fernando Diaz's sister.

Norma Diaz Rodriguez says her and her family's pain is made worse by a voicemail from one of Fernando's doctors. The voicemail was left for her on April 24; 10 days before he died.

On the voicemail, the doctor identifies herself and adds: "I wanted to talk to you about Fernando Diaz."

But the caller does not hang up. The doctor, who was treating Fernando at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, continues talking to colleagues. The voicemail is still recording.

"Look he's going to die, it's just a matter of time. For the safety of everybody that's involved, we should not do chest compressions on him. Otherwise he's on everything. It's just a matter of time that he will pass on."

Norma Diaz Rodriguez heard the voicemail and says she was livid.
"I understand unknowingly she did it, but she still did it. And she still talked about my brother. This is my brother she's talking about," said Norma Diaz Rodriguez.

Fernando Diaz first went to Advocate Trinity Hospital on March 28, and was transferred to Advocate Christ Medical Center in early April.

"When we heard the voicemail, that's when started questioning everything," said Sonia Diaz, Fernando's sister.

"It puts doubt in my head. It puts doubt. Was he receiving all the care he could have gotten?" Norma Diaz Rodriguez asked.

After the voicemail, the family says they filed a complaint with hospital's patient advocate.

The doctor heard on the voicemail never responded to our numerous requests for comment. She's not an Advocate employee, but she has privileges to practice at the hospital.

Advocate Christ Medical Center released this statement in response to our questions about the voicemail:
"Our thoughts and prayers are with this family during this difficult time. As a healing ministry, our top priority is to provide high-quality, compassionate care to all our patients and their families. We regret when we fall short and learn from every situation. We are reviewing this matter, which involves a non-employed physician."

The family says they were able to see Fernando on Zoom though he could not speak, and they continued to fight for his care.

"We advocated as well as we could in this situation," said Rita Alvarez, Fernando Diaz's aunt.

His niece, Tiffany Ventura, said, "I take nothing away from this situation other than the fact that we have an opportunity to speak up for someone else."

Fernando Diaz's family continued advocating and fight for his care.

"I'm hoping the nurses and doctors are doing their best and doing what they say they are doing for the patients, because this is heartbreaking," Norma Diaz Rodriguez said.

A heartbreaking journey for Fernando Diaz's family. They are hurting, yet hopeful their story will help other families too.
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