An NHS doctor watched his mother’s funeral on a Zoom video conference after she passed away from coronavirus.
Dr Robert Baskind, a consultant psychiatrist for the NHS in Leeds, was unable to visit his 74-year-old mother, Sue Baskind, once she began to display symptoms of Covid-19 and was admitted to hospital last Monday.
Dr Baskind and his wife, Ellissa, who is currently undergoing treatment for leukaemia, are both self-isolating for 12 weeks because she is in the high-risk category.
Dr Baskind did manage to speak to his mother on the phone before she died on Friday evening, but her symptoms made it difficult for her to have a conversation as she struggled to breathe.
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Her funeral was held on Sunday but Dr Baskind, along with his wife and his father, who is also self-isolating, were unable to attend in person.
‘My mum was a very active, fit lady, very hospitable, welcoming, beautiful lady,’ Dr Baskind said in an interview with Sky News.
‘And even though she had been poorly in these last few years she was still functioning to a reasonable level, and even at the age of 74 we still considered her as a young lady, all her four sons, her husband, her 11 grandchildren, she was still supporting us at all the family events, it was a massive shock when she suddenly became ill with coronavirus.
‘In the week before she got admitted to hospital there were some symptoms, she was a bit weak, she seemed a little bit confused on occasions, it was a couple of days before she went into hospital where it came more prominent, the typical symptoms we expect and know about now, the dry cough, her temperature spiked significantly, really to a point where my dad wasn’t able to care for her.
‘Because the restrictions with coronavirus had already kicked in, we weren’t able to go round. Myself and my wife are both medics, but my wife is currently undergoing treatment for leukaemia so she’s in the high-risk category, so we’re shielding and self-isolating for 12 weeks, so we really had to advise my dad at that point she was too poorly to be at home, we eventually contacted 999 for an ambulance.
‘Thank goodness for technology in some ways, we can do video calls. That became so much more difficult when she went into hospital because she was struggling to breathe at that time.
‘Although we did get a couple of conversations with her she couldn’t get many words out, she was too breathless. We weren’t able to visit her, even my dad wasn’t able to visit her.
‘She went into hospital on the Monday and it was on the Friday night that she passed away.
Morning clinic ð· completed with @Ellissabaskind and support worker @avi82172655.— Rob Baskind (@RobBaskind) April 1, 2020
‘Obviously none of us had seen her but then you start thinking about practicalities even though you’re devastated, my mum’s passed away, you then actually have to think what’s ahead of us which was planning the funeral.
‘We’re Jewish, we have to plan funerals very quickly, so she died on Friday night and the funeral was on the Sunday.
‘Three of my brothers were able to attend but neither myself, for the reasons I’ve mentioned, or my dad because he was self-isolating.
‘We watched the funeral via Zoom conference, which is something I’d normally be using for work-related conferences. I never thought I’d be watching my mum’s funeral in that way.’
Dr Baskind also stressed the importance for support to be put in place for anyone affected by the coronavirus crisis.
‘I don’t think we can underestimate the trauma that coronavirus is bringing on people in so many ways,’ he said.
‘Losing loved ones, the financial economic aspect that people are going to be going through.
‘I think we need to think about the impact on staff. I’ve been in touch with front-line staff, I know how heartbreaking it is for them, both dealing with the patients but also that they are not able to ask families to see their loved ones, and they’re the ones who are having to communicate with them and ring them when they’ve passed away. I hope they are getting the support they need.
‘It is a normal aspect, we would expect people to be anxious at this time, you’d expect people to be fearful, struggling with their sleep. In think we need to be prepared for the support that’s going to be needed for individuals who have gone through this crisis. It’s unique, no one I’ve spoken through, however old, has been through anything like this before.’
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