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Family Of Pregnant Mother Who Died After Contracting COVID-19 Files Suit, Accuses Roseland Community Hospital Of Neglect

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A mother of three with another baby on the way died from coronavirus at a South Side hospital.

Now the hospital faces a lawsuit because the woman's family blames it for her death, not the virus. CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker took an exclusive look at the medical records that has the family questioning the cause of death.

On a summer day, three young children hang out with their dad, playing games in the front yard. But behind the smiles, Marcus Cannon's children are grieving.

"It's hard for them," said Cannon.

Hard, because three months ago they lost their mother, Lolita Davis.

"I catch them staring at the walls, staring at the ceiling, always inside their phones, looking at pictures of their mom," said Cannon.

Davis was 31 years old and pregnant with her fourth child when she called an ambulance to her Chicago apartment on May 15.

"I was told she was having shortness of breath again," said her brother, Cory Davis. "I'm never going to see my sister again. That's what hurts me the most."

The ambulance report, publicly revealed for the first time, shows Chicago paramedics arrive at Davis' home at 11:28 a.m. Complaints on the call log included vomiting, difficulty breathing, extremely high blood pressure – and a suspected case of Coronavirus, COVID-19.

At 11:44 a.m., 16 minutes later, the ambulance arrives at Roseland Community Hospital.

At 11:46 a.m., paramedics check Davis into the emergency room. But according to hospital medical records obtained by the CBS 2 Investigators, it was not until 2:54 p.m. that someone checked Davis' vital signs. That was more than three hours after she arrives. Her blood pressure remained high.

At 4:11 p.m., Davis begins to slip away. Code Blue is called. At 4:13 p.m., doctors start compressions. At 4:20 p.m. and 4:24 p.m., shocks to the heart. At 4:51 p.m., doctors give up. Davis is dead.

The cause of death listed on the Medical Examiner's report is COVID-19 complications. The cause of death according to the family?

"She definitely was neglected," said Cory Davis.

The family is suing Roseland for "wrongful death and medical negligence" Ashley Murray is their attorney.

"Writing on a death certificate or having a positive COVID test should not and does not excuse hospitals from accurately treating and triaging patients and providing healthcare that the people count on," said Murray.

Her argument? That the ER staff took too long to check Davis' vitals.

"To have someone come in and sit in the emergency room for three hours and not be treated and not be seen and not have vitals taken and not have their medical record reviewed – it's just irresponsible," said Murray.

The average wait time in emergency rooms across Illinois is just 19 minutes, according to the latest stats from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Roseland falls into a category of community hospitals with limited resources and tight budgets. There are 14 on that list. According to state records, Roseland has the second highest average wait time, 99 minutes.

And when Davis' vitals were finally taken?

"Her blood pressure is off the charts for somebody who is 30 weeks pregnant. And nothing is done. Her blood pressure got so high that she had a heart attack ," said Murray.

"Telling the kids that their mother was gone. The look on their face, man. It was crazy. That day, that day was terrible," remembered Cannon.

The children not only lost their mother, but Lolita Davis' unborn baby also died. It was a girl.

"They didn't save either one of them so I lost a sister and a niece all in an hour. That ain't cool," said Cory Davis.

The hospital's attorney declined to answer questions about Davis' death citing privacy laws, but he did send condolences to the family.

"How many more families got to suffer?" asked Davis.

"It's hard. It's really hard for my kids right now. They are suffering. They are suffering the most," said Cannon.

"How many people got to lose fathers, uncles, cousins, brothers? I just feel like they could have done a little better than they did," said Davis.

Lolita Davis' death also prompted a state investigation in early June. Three weeks later, the hospital was cleared after changing its policies.

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