Michael Hickson, a 46-year-old COVID-19 patient, was starved and left without adequate treatment for his illnesses at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. His wife, Melissa, says the hospital refused to treat his illnesses because of his disability.
Michael Hickson became quadriplegic due to receiving CPR after he went into sudden cardiac arrest while driving Melissa to work in May 2017. Melissa and their five children stayed by Michael’s side throughout his recovery. He landed back in the hospital in 2020 after contracting COVID-19 and pneumonia from a staff member at his nursing home.
Michael was conscious and alert but could not communicate verbally. He responded to jokes, shook his head, and puckered his lips on a FaceTime call when Melissa requested a kiss. Melissa asked if she could pray with her husband and their children, to which he nodded “yes.” But the doctor soon told Melissa her husband would be placed in hospice against her will. In a recorded conversation, the St. David’s doctor told Melissa her husband would not receive treatment because of his disability, despite her wishes.
St. David’s doctor: “So as of right now, his quality of life – he doesn’t have much of one.”
Melissa: “What do you mean? Because he’s paralyzed with a brain injury he doesn’t have quality of life?”
St. David’s doctor: “Correct.”
While Michael’s wife and another family member were litigating in court who would be Michael’s permanent guardian, a judge named an Austin-area organization called Family Eldercare as temporary guardian over Michael. Family Eldercare granted the doctor’s orders to not treat Michael and instead place him in hospice. Alarmingly, the doctor reiterated the scary reality that she had zero say in whether her husband lived or died. The doctor told Melissa, “but at this point, we are going to do what we feel is best for him along with the state and this is what we decided… this is the decision between the medical community and the state.”
Michael was left without food or treatment for six days despite Melissa’s will to save her husband. He passed away from the untreated illnesses on June 11, 2020.
Now, Melissa and her children grieve their beloved husband and dad. Melissa stated, “I’m struggling to understand how and why this could ever happen. I lost my best friend, my better half, the other half of my heart.” She continued:
I was stripped of my rights as a wife, and left helplessly watching my husband be executed. I now have no husband, a widow at 47. My children left with no father to celebrate Father’s Day. All taken away from us. I have no other words to express how I feel today except hurt, angry, and frustrated.