Minnesota nurse shares her heartbreak after watching father die alone under COVID protocols

Jenna Hadley Johnsen’s father was hospitalized for COVID-19, put on a ventilator without consent, and passed away without his family surrounding him, Johnsen told Alpha News.

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Jenna Hadley Johnsen video calls with her father while he is hospitalized for COVID-19. (Photo provided to Alpha News)

Jenna Hadley Johnsen is a nurse with decades of experience, so she knew from the beginning that something wasn’t right with her parents’ COVID-19 treatment.

Johnsen’s father, Jim, died due to COVID while hospitalized in 2022. She joined Liz Collin Reports this week to discuss the hospital protocols she disagrees with that left her dad to die alone.

Johnsen’s mother got sick in December 2021, and Johnsen began taking care of her in her parents’ home.

Johnsen works as an RN and has her master’s degree in holistic health. She monitored her mom’s oxygen and vitals and administered supplements, and then spoke with her parents’ doctor about preventative action they could take.

Her mother got better, and then worse, and then Johnsen had no choice but to admit her to the hospital, where her mother was “yelled at” for not being vaccinated against COVID-19, Johnsen said. At this local hospital, Johnsen felt she had some control — or at least, “some illusion of control” — over her mother’s treatment.

“She was transferred to North Memorial in Robbinsdale and after that I lost complete control,” Johnsen said.

During this time, Johnsen’s father had contracted COVID as well, and he was doing fine but stressing about his wife.

Jenna Hadley Johnsen’s parents. (Photo provided to Alpha News)

“But then something changed with my dad, and his oxygen was dropping, and I could not get it back up,” Johnsen recalled.

‘They never woke him up’

She admitted her father to North Memorial as well in the beginning of January 2022, although she said that wouldn’t have been her first choice in hospitals.

Doctors discovered blood clots in his lungs. Johnsen made it clear that she had power of attorney and would make any decisions about his treatment. She said she was not allowed in the hospital to see either of her parents.

Johnsen’s father was texting her during this time, and he was placed in a room next to her mother.

“And then there was nothing … I couldn’t get a hold of my dad, and I couldn’t get a hold of anybody. No one had called me once he had transferred up there to the ICU,” Johnsen said.

She found out that doctors had been giving him medications with a side effect of respiratory depression and had stopped giving him the prescriptions he normally took, like a blood pressure medication, she said.

Johnsen said that every time the hospital called, they wanted to talk to her about “do not resuscitate” and “do not intubate” orders.

“They are 69 years old and healthy people. I eventually had to say, ‘Stop asking me to change my parents to DNI/DNR. I am not doing that until I can see them,'” she said.

“They ultimately gave my dad a cocktail of very strong narcotics,” Johnsen explained.

She said as a nurse, she would have asked the doctor at this point if the patient was now receiving hospice care.

Johnsen was upfront with the hospital about not wanting her father to be put on a ventilator.

“And then the next call I got was the morning they had vented my dad, and I started screaming at the top of my lungs to take it off, take it off, take it off. You did not have permission, you did not have consent,” she said.

They told her they were “just going to let his lungs rest,” and that they would “wake him up every day.”

“They never woke him up,” Johnsen said. He was admitted Jan. 6 and died Jan. 30, 2022.

Since then, she said she has looked through hundreds of medical charts and learned this was a common refrain when putting patients on ventilators: “We’re just going to let their lungs rest.”

Seeking justice

Johnsen has been working with a group called Medical Justice MN to organize thousands of pages of patients’ medical records. So many stories are “so similar” to her dad’s, she said.

Her dad’s medical chart originally had “unvaccinated” written all over it, Johnsen said, until she brought this up to a nurse who agreed that this did not follow protocol.

“For medical interventions to be completed on you without your consent, informed consent, without your power of attorney or anyone signing off on anything — there’s not one consent in my dad’s records,” she explained.

Jenna Hadley Johnsen (second from right) with her parents and family. (Photo provided to Alpha News)

For her, justice looks like not letting this happen to anyone else.

“There are people in the hospital right now that are going through these protocols, and their families are trying to advocate for them and fight for them. So I want it to stop.”

Her ultimate wish is for a law to be signed that prevents anyone in a vulnerable state from being forcibly left alone in a hospital.

“I don’t want my children or my grandchildren to ever be scared to go to the hospital to seek medical help,” Johnsen said. “Informed consent is a must. Basic human rights is a must. Vulnerable adults in the hospital that can’t speak for themselves need someone to be able to speak for them.”

Alpha News reached out to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale but did not receive a response.

 

Rose Williams
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Rose Williams is an assistant editor for Alpha News.