Family of critical COVID-19 patient questions poor hospital communication

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Christopher Robinson is usually the life of the party, but his family says he is fighting for his life in a south Austin hospital.

An entire army of people are praying for Chris.

The 41-year-old is a supervisor for SuperShuttle, which is based at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

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His sister Mary Robinson said he came down with COVID-19 symptoms about two weeks ago and tested positive. When he started experiencing respiratory issues, Chris was admitted to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.

Mary said Chris’s partner also tested positive for COVID-19, and is home in quarantine.

Chris Robinson, 41, with his godchildren (Courtesy: Mary Robinson)

Mary has been her brother’s main point of contact for his medical team at St. David’s. She said she didn’t hear from anyone with the hospital until three days after he was admitted.

She said the communication has been inconsistent, and there have been days when she didn’t hear from anyone at all.

Mary, who is also in the healthcare industry, sympathizes with the nurses and doctors who are on the front lines, but said the difficulty in getting information has been adding to her stress. She says it’s causing her to lose trust in what doctors and nurses are telling her about her brother’s care and condition.

Mary described a “heartbreaking” phone conversation with one of Chris’ doctors Monday. She told the doctor she wants the hospital to do everything possible to save Chris’s life — if it comes to that. Mary said Chris had indicated in previous conversations this is what he would want. According to Mary, the doctor tried to talk her out of it, and said performing something like CPR would put he and his doctor’s lives at risk.

KXAN has reached out to St. David’s HealthCare with Mary’s concerns, and has asked for more details about processes in place for communicating with patients’ families and the dilemmas doctors are facing when it comes to end-of-life decisions for COVID-19 patients.

The public relations firm hired by the hospital to work with the media is looking into the situation.

KXAN Investigator Erin Cargile will be updating this story with new information, and will have a full report on KXAN News at 9 and 10 p.m.

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