MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A family is questioning what happened at a Twin Cities care facility in the weeks leading up to their father’s death from COVID-19.

David McCawley was 81-year-old when he died on April 19 at North Ridge Health and Rehab in New Hope.

It’s not the first heartbreak for a family who has seen a deadly virus before.

Laura McCawley has had just a few months to process what happened in the weeks leading up to her dad’s death.

“Our last conversation is the one that bothers me,” McCawley said.

David McCawley had just moved to North Ridge in New Hope this past winter.  He spent most of his life in northeast Minneapolis, as an avid fisherman, retired postal worker, and a proud grandpa.

Early this spring, his daughter told him the pandemic meant she could no longer visit in-person.

“He said don’t worry about me you just make sure everyone else is healthy and stay safe and that was our last conversation,” McCawley said.

Days later, Laura says a call from his care facility confirmed a positive case of COVID-19.

“We’re required to notify you but don’t worry there’s only one and it’s not your dad and it’s not even on the floor that he’s on,” she was told.

She says it was ten days later, a voicemail from North Ridge said her dad had been moved to the COVID unit and that she should call his social worker, tomorrow.

“Excuse me? I’m calling immediately because I want information. I want answers,” she remembered thinking at the time.

Laura says she never heard back. She never knew his symptoms or how serious it was.

“Never got an answer. Ever,” she said.

Until, the middle of the night a few days later when they told Laura that David had died.  Sadly, it sent the family back to another tragedy.

“I lost my daughter-in-law Julie to the flu two years ago,” Laura said.

A 38-year-old, who had the flu shot.  Laura said Julie was infected with a different strain.

After what they’ve been through, Laura hopes others will take these invisible threats more seriously, as she still questions the last days of her dad’s life.

“Just sad that we never got to say goodbye,” Laura said.

A statement from a spokesperson with North Ridge Health and Rehab to WCCO said:

“Our deepest sympathies go out to the McCawley family.  We care for extremely vulnerable people, many of whom have multiple underlying conditions that, sadly, can lead to their passing. Every single person’s life is precious, which is why we work so hard to preserve it. The people in our care are more than patients; they become our friends. With care and caution, we fight for them every day.

 This has been a very difficult battle with an insidious virus and we do our best to keep our residents and their families informed.  Regular communications with our families and residents take place via personal phones calls, emails, letters, updates on our website, and on social media, too. We share with our families and residents the number of new cases, as well as the recoveries.  Statistics regarding staff testing are also available to the public.

With that said, we understand how difficult it is to lose a family member.”

Liz Collin

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