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Bayfront Health Port Charlotte

An 83-year-old man was admitted Saturday night to Bayfront Health Port Charlotte for heart problems.

German Ortega had a room to himself in the Emergency Room Saturday and Sunday. Sunday night, Ortega was moved to a shared room upstairs, with a roommate who was “coughing all night long,” he said. He lay awake in bed wondering what could be wrong with the coughing man in the room.

On Monday, Ortega was told that his heart tests came back OK, and he got up to walk around before checking out of the hospital. Then someone stopped him and told him he wasn’t allowed to leave his room, he said.

Why not?

Because he was sharing a room with a COVID-19 patient, a health practitioner allegedly told him.

Ortega tested negative for COVID-19 upon his admittance to the hospital, but now has to stay an additional 14 days because he was exposed to the coronavirus, he said. He got tested for COVID-19 after being exposed to the positive patient, and had not received results from the second test as of Wednesday afternoon. He was later moved to a separate room.

“I just want to get out,” Ortega told the Sun. “They dropped the ball. Here I am in a place with more people that can be contaminated.”

Bayfront Health Port Charlotte declined to comment on the situation, citing patient privacy.

“They probably just signed my father’s death sentence,” said Amy Ortega DePriester, Ortega’s daughter. “How does that mistake get made … One would pray that when there’s a pandemic, you would do a rapid test before you put someone in a room with an 83-year-old.”

The hospital said it would pay for the additional required 14-day stay, according to DePriester.

Universal masking is required for everyone in the hospital — both patients and providers — to minimize the potential for exposure, according to Bevin Holzschuh, a spokesperson for Bayfront Health Port Charlotte.

“Our COVID-19 response is based on the best practices and guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Holzschuh said. “Designated units are established to care for our non-COVID patients and testing for COVID-19 is performed on all patients upon admission and before discharge.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Bayfront Health Port Charlotte had 24.14% of its adult ICU beds available, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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