Personal Items of Dead Covid-19 Patient Taken from his ICU Room in Santa Monica
This Incident Not Rare or Isolated During the Pandemic, say experts, who cite a national trend
March 4, 2021
The family of a man who died from Covid-19 in a Santa Monica hospital has filed a police report stating his personal belongings were stolen from his intensive care room.
"Instead of writing the eulogy, I was canceling credit cards," said Lila Yomtoob, daughter of 84-year-old Abraham Yomtoob, who passed away on Jan. 15 at Providence St. Johns in Santa Monica.
Abraham Yomtoob spent the final weeks of his life with pain and isolation in the ICU, his daughter Lila told the local TV stations. "I thought no one's touched him for so long because we've also had Covid," she said.
After her father succumbed to the coronavirus, Lila noticed that his wallet, cell phone has disappeared from his room. "His outgoing message wasn't on the phone anymore, so that tipped us off that the phone was stolen," Lila Yomtoob told the stations. "I was planning to write the eulogy for my father, and instead I spent the afternoon and the evening canceling his credit cards and closing accounts and changing passwords."
Lila's ordeal is not rare or an isolated incident.
More families across the United States have reported they have lost their dying loved ones' possessions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
News stories Virginia, Texas, Florida, Michigan, New York and New York, among other states, have detailed the loss of loved ones to Covid-19 and the loss of their personal belongings in hospitals, funeral homes and ambulances. These items range from wallets to computers, clothing, glasses, credit cards, ID cards and car keys.
In New York City, a nurse at Staten Island University Hospital was arrested last year after police say she stole a credit card from a patient who later died of Covid-19. Danielle Conti, 43, is facing charges of grand larceny, petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, NYPD said.
In Santa Monica, the local police department said it is investigating the burglary in Providence St. Johns Hospital.
In a statement, St. Johns Hospital said: "The Covid-19 surge required us to adapt our processes in order to care for the large number of patients. We take all family concerns very seriously and when we learned of the missing items, we investigated this issue and convened a team that reviewed policies, procedures and practices. They identified a gap and fixed it."
After complaining about the loss of her father's belongings, Lila Yomtoob said received an email from the St. Johns Hospital saying: "There was some confusion related to patients diagnosed with COVID and how their belongings are to be handled. Some thought security was to retrieve them. Some thought nursing brings them to security. Unfortunately, your father's belongings did not make it to security."
Lila filed a police report 2 weeks ago, explaining: "I just don't want it to keep happening to people."