Belongings of dead COVID-19 patient taken from his Calif. hospital room


SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KCAL/KCBS) - “He loved music, dancing, exercise,” said Lila Yomtoob, the daughter of Abraham Yomtoob.

In 84 years, he gave the most interesting man in the world a run for his money, until COVID-19 caught him.

The final weeks of his life were filled with pain and isolation in the ICU.

“I thought no one’s touched him for so long because we’ve also had COVID. We can’t touch each other, and now he’s dying,” daughter Lila Yomtoob said.

He passed away on Jan. 15. His daughter said her grief was compounded when her dad’s personal belongings disappeared from his hospital room at Providence St. Johns in Santa Monica.

Along with his wallet, his phone and all his contacts were gone.

“His outgoing message wasn’t on the phone anymore, so that tipped us off that the phone was stolen,” Lila Yomtoob said. “I was planning to write the eulogy for my father, and instead I spent the afternoon and the evening canceling his credit cards and closing accounts and changing passwords.”

She’s spent the last month in a frustrating back and forth with the hospital.

She says they’ve admitted it was a theft in an email indicating her dad’s case might not be the only problem, saying: “There was some confusion related to patients diagnosed with COVID and how their belongings are to be handled. Some thought security was to retrieve them. Some thought nursing brings them to security. Unfortunately, your father’s belongings did not make it to security. We identified gaps in our process as it relates to COVID-19 patients. We will meet again next week to finalize our action plans, which include staff education.”

To Lila Yomtoob, that means it’s happening to other COVID-19 patients, isolated without family there to protect them, which is part of the reason she filed a report with the Santa Monica Police Department.

“I just don’t want it to keep happening to people. I just don’t want this to happen,” Lila Yomtoob said.

Santa Monica Police said they are investigating the matter.

Meanwhile the hospital sent a statement saying in part: “The COVID surge required us to adapt our processes in order to care for the large number of patients. We convened a team that reviewed policies. They identified a gap and fixed it.”

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