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'We cried a tear or two': Spokane hospital allows man to see wife before high-risk surgery

Visitors are not allowed right now due to high transmissibility of the delta variant at this time, according to a MultiCare spokesperson.
Credit: Roger
Mulitcare Deaconess Emergency Room

SPOKANE, Wash — Doctors told 72-year-old Jerry Wootan that his heart surgery on Tuesday afternoon would be extremely high risk and he may not make it through.

Wootan needs two more stents in his heart after he suffered from atrial fibrillation and a previous stent placement. He said he is willing to take the chance on the procedure for the shot to live at least five more healthy years. 

However, due to the COVID-19 protocols at MultiCare Deaconess Hospital, he was going to miss a large part of his support system: his wife of over 40 years. Wootan was initially told by hospital staff that he was not allowed to have any visitors or leave the hospital at all before his surgery. Then, on Tuesday afternoon he was granted permission to see his wife. 

"I got to hug and kiss her and we cried a tear or two," Wootan said.

Wootan also said he received excellent care at the hospital but was very relieved to be able to see his wife before his surgery.

Kevin Maloney, a spokesperson for MultiCare said policies have been adjusted to support the health and safety of patients, visitors and staff.

"Visitors are not allowed due to high transmissibility of the delta variant at this time. However, there are exceptions to that policy which include 'all inpatients at end-of-life: maximum of two visitors at a time in the room'. Exceptions can be made at the discretion of the clinical team,” Maloney said.

He said the staff offered to coordinate a FaceTime call with her before they made the exception, but it just wouldn't have been the same. 

"I want to hold her, hug her and kiss her and be able to tell her that I love her if I don't see her again," Wootan said before the exception was made.

According to a New York Times report, MultiCare has seen a "substantial rise in calls for support from Idaho."

The organization received 30 requests from Idaho's critical access hospitals in August, according to Maloney. Due to capacity limitations, MultiCare could only accept 10 of them, Maloney said. MultiCare has also received requests from Colorado, Texas, Alaska and Oregon.