Nursing Home Mix-up: Resident Buried Under Wrong Name and Without Family

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Elian Fitusi with his grandmother, Haya Freiman.
Elian Fitusi with his grandmother, Haya Freiman.Credit: Courtesy of family

A nursing home resident died last week and was buried under another name without her family knowing about it, with the Health Ministry saying it will establish a committee to investigate the incident.   

The family of the woman, Haya Freiman, became aware of her death only three days after she was buried. The misidentification was revealed when the woman who had supposedly died was photographed receiving a gift for Rosh Hashanah. 

Freiman, who had dementia and had contracted the coronavirus, was transferred last week at Health Ministry orders from a nursing home in Ashkelon where there had been a coronavirus outbreak to a nursing home in Bnei Brak that has a coronavirus ward. Another woman who had also become infected was transferred with her. That was the woman who was reported dead.

Freiman’s family asked the court to exhume her body and conduct an autopsy. Her grandson, Elian Fitusi, told Haaretz, “They told us she died of the coronavirus, but we have no clue. We are still trying to process the whole story.”

According to Fitusi, two days after his grandmother was hospitalized in the Bnei Brak nursing home, his mother called to ask how she was doing and “they told her everything was fine, that she was doing well, and eating and drinking. But when my mother was calling the nursing home, Grandma had already passed away.”

Two days later a team from the Ashkelon nursing home came to the family home and informed them that Freiman had died. “They told us the story was a bit complicated and that they themselves don’t know what happened there,” Fitusi said.

The Health Ministry said that “[f]rom the moment we were informed of the incident, a delegation of representatives from the health bureau and the home from which the woman had been transferred came to the families to deal with the incident. In parallel to the examination, the Health Ministry will continue to assist the grieving family as necessary.”

The two nursing homes are blaming each other. According to Neot Avi in Ashkelon, there was “negligent conduct” on the part of the Bnei Brak nursing home.

“The resident who had been mistakenly reported dead was tagged by Mercaz Vatikim with an incorrect tag bearing the name of a different resident,” it said. On the other hand, Mercaz Siud Vatikim in Bnei Brak claimed the error was made by Neot Avi, and it has sent the latter a warning letter threatening a libel suit.

Mercaz Siud Vatikim said that “[b]ecause of an error by the transferring institution, which switched the means of identification between two elderly women who were sent, they were admitted into Vatikim under the wrong names.”

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