Searching For Father After Coronavirus Release

(WSVN) - It is a son’s worst nightmare. His 95-year-old father contracted the coronavirus, was sent to the hospital and when he was released, no one would tell him where his father was sent. He then asked Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser to find his father. They did. It was not what the family expected.

Alberto Perez was 95 years old, nearly blind, couldn’t hear well and was starting to get very confused.

Rafael Perez, can’t find his father: “He started doing things that were not normal, like walking out of the house at 3 o’clock in the morning and leave the door open. One day, I come in. He’s fallen in the pool.”

Rafael and his wife cared for Alberto for the past 20 years.

When they went to their jobs, Alberto would go to an adult day care where, in February, he had a breakdown.

Rafael Perez: “He started saying he was tired of living, that he wanted to die, this and that, so he was Baker Acted.”

Two weeks later, Rafael was told to come pick up his father.

Rafael Perez: “And I explained to them that he was out of control, that I couldn’t control him, and that was all the conversation we had. After that, they never called me again.”

Rafael’s nightmare began. The Department of Children and Families took control of Alberto and put him in a nursing home.

Rafael asked, “Which one?”

Rafael Perez: “‘Oh, we don’t know.’ ‘What do you mean you don’t know?’ He was transferred. ‘Oh, we can’t tell you.'”

Finally, Rafael found him. He wasn’t allowed to visit with his father because of the state lockdown, but he could talk to him.

Rafael Perez: “So finally, one day, I got one of the nurses to put him on the phone. We spoke to him maybe 10 minutes, five minutes.”

But then Alberto contracted the coronavirus, and the 95-year-old was sent to the hospital.

Rafael Perez: “He is not on a respirator. He is breathing on his own. He is eating. He’s drinking.”

The good news turned bad. Alberto was released. Rafael asked where he was sent. He was told by the hospital, legally, they could not tell him because he was a ward of the state now.

Rafael Perez: “They told me that I have no right, that my rights were vanished, that the state was in charge of him now, and that was it.”

Rafael couldn’t find his father, and no one would tell him where he was. That’s when he called Help Me Howard.

Rafael Perez: “I don’t even know if he is alive.”

Rafael felt guilty because he thought putting his father in a nursing home where they could keep an eye on him was the right thing to do.

Rafael Perez: “And not knowing where he is, it’s even worse, and I feel I created the whole problem by telling them that I could not help him, by telling them that I needed help.”

But as bad as Rafael felt, he knew the man he had cared for for 20 years had to feel worse.

Rafael Perez: “I’m sure he is scared. He doesn’t know where he is at. He can’t hear. He can’t see.”

We started searching for Alberto. We contacted DCF.

After a short investigation, this time they told Rafael where his father was.

Rafael Perez: “They called me yesterday, finally, thanks to you guys digging around, and they told me his body was at the morgue.”

Rafael was devastated. Then, as he learned more information, he was infuriated to find out what happened when his father was dying.

Rafael Perez: “He wasn’t doing very well, so they made the decision, because there was no one else there to make the decision for him. Of course, there was nobody there. They never called me.”

Rafael can’t find out who decided his father was too sick to be resuscitated.

Alberto was Baker Acted, so he wouldn’t kill himself.

Ironically, after that, he died.

Rafael Perez: “They took him away from me two months ago. They transferred him from hospital to hospital, hospital, hospital, hospital, and finally, someone made the decision he was too sick to live.”

Rafael took care of his father for the last 20 years of his life, but in his last 20 days, he never got to talk to him, to hug him, to tell him he loved him.

Rafael Perez: “It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It wasn’t fair to him, and it’s not fair to us. It just wasn’t fair all around.”

Rafael asked us to help find his father. We did not want to find him in a morgue.

Now, legally, Alberto should never have been Baker Acted. It’s for mental illness, not dementia or senility, and Rafael should have been told where his father was each time he was moved. The law requires it.

A lot of mistakes by a lot of people as the family prepares to bury Alberto. Just a very sad Help Me Howard.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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