SPOKANE, Wash. — COVID-19 cases are surging, local hospitals are struggling to keep up and non-emergency surgeries are on pause.
The impact of this latest spike in cases is stretching beyond just COVID-19 patients and hospitals. Hospice care is facing similar challenges with providing end of life care for patients. Bo Cooke and his family experience this firsthand.
His father, Bill, tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago and was not vaccinated. He died last night, at the age of 87, gasping for air. He wanted to die at home among family.
They requested hospice care. But because of COVID and staff being stretched thin, Bo and his brother cared for their father in his final days all on their own.
Two weeks ago, Bo said his father started coughing and his breathing became increasingly difficult.
"Before he died he said, I haven't slept in two weeks, I've been coughing hacking and wheezing, and trying to get breath," Cooke said.
In his final days, Bill wanted to be with his family and not at the hospital.
"He didn't want to take up space for somebody who really needed," Cooke said. "And that sounds like a Marine."
They requested hospice care. But because of COVID-19 and staff being stretched thin, Bo and his brother cared for their father in his final moments--all on their own.
"It was completely hands on," Cooke said. "And I know dispatch health came out for my dad and they did wonderful work. But they couldn't stay. They couldn't get somebody to stay at your house. So I had to glove up and mask up. I had the Moderna vaccine and I'm putting my life at risk. I'm trusting on science, and that's really what your trust."
They did their best to make Bill comfortable leading up to his death.
'I don't think anybody needs to die anymore': Spokane man watches father died from COVID-19
"My dad died because he got bad information from a poor source of information," Cooke said. "I don't think anybody needs to die anymore. I'm done with it. Trust the science."
Cooke is now begging the community to get vaccinated. If not for their sake, then for the sake of others and the nurses and doctors on the frontline of COVID-19.
"It's not a personal choice when you infect somebody who doesn't want to be infected," Cooke said. "If you're going to be part of the public and you choose not to wear a mask, you choose not to get vaccinated: Then, I'm going to be really harsh here. Stay out of our hospitals because you're taking up space for people that need desperately some help."
Cooke is now grieving the loss of his father in quarantine alone. His wife posted messages to the windows of the room he's in to share love and comfort with him from afar.