Worried Sick: Medical issues disrupt 3 South Florida families’ lives amid pandemic

(WSVN) - Not everyone suffering because of COVID-19 has the disease. 7’s Kevin Ozebek talked to three South Florida families whose lives have been turned upside down by coronavirus concerns.

Fifteen-year-old Ethan Gilmore should be finishing out his school year online with West Broward High School. Instead, he is fighting for his life — in Texas.

Anette Casariego, Ethan’s mother: “It is cancer of the bones.”

For the last seven months, Ethan and his mom Anette have been driving back and forth from their home in Davie to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for weekly clinical trial treatments.

Now they are stuck there.

Anette Casariego: “We can’t really leave the state because the hospital is just not taking any patients from other states unless they’re quarantined for 14 days prior.”

Ethan is responding well to the treatment, so they’re staying put, in hotels or houses, anywhere they can find.

But it’s expensive.

Anette Casariego: “It was costly before this COVID issue. It’s even more costly now because we have to stay here longer.”

Because Ethan could be in treatment for another year, they’re trying to find a long-term solution, hoping someone will donate an RV so they won’t have to worry about always looking for the next place to stay.

Wendy Fratto, diagnosed with cancer: “You’re the best! You really are.”

Wendy and her daughter Daina are also dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Before the coronavirus lockdown, Wendy was diagnosed with colon cancer, and with many doctor’s offices closed, she still hasn’t been able to see a specialist.

Wendy Fratto: “I’m waiting to hear when I can get help. Physically, I’m just sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Daina says they haven’t even had a chance to ask questions.

Daina Ratliff: (cries) “I don’t know how bad it is. For the first time in my life, I feel like I can’t fix it.”

With hospitals limiting all but essential visits so they can focus on patients with COVID-19, it’s easy to forget how the virus is making life difficult for people with other medical issues.

Even expectant mothers are affected.

Sarah Jordan, having twins: “No visitors, haven’t seen my kids.”

Sarah Jordan is pregnant with twins, but pre-term labor landed her in the hospital at Plantation General just before the pandemic broke out. Now she’s in quarantine and hasn’t seen her husband and sons for almost two months.

Sarah Jordan: “I don’t know when I will see them again. I can’t tell them, ‘Oh, I’ll be home soon.'”

To save the twins, a boy and a girl, Sarah is on total bed rest until they’re born. That’s the only time her husband will be allowed to come to the hospital.

Sarah Jordan: “He can be here when they’re born for 24 hours, and after that, he cannot see me or the babies until they come home. It’s scary, you know, just the not knowing.”

For Sarah, Wendy and Ethan, COVID and its complications continue to prove a challenge for them and for families everywhere.

Sarah’s babies are out of danger now, and she was just allowed to go home from the hospital, but she’ll have to stay on total bed rest and in quarantine until the twins are born in a few weeks.

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