The family of the 25-year-old Wisconsin woman are seeking answers following her tragic death earlier in the month. Tashonna Ward, a daycare worker whose newborn daughter died last year, passed away after waiting nearly three hours in the emergency room at Wisconsin’s Froedtert Hospital where she sought treatment for chest pains and shortness of breath.
Ward checked into the ER at 4:58 p.m on Jan. 2, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. During the wait, hospital staff checked Ward’s heartbeat and she underwent an x-ray, the latter of which showed that she had an enlarged heart.
She was sent back to the waiting room.
“I been here since 4:30 something for shortness of breath, and chest pains for them to just say it’s a two to SIX hour wait to see a [doctor]. Like that is really f***ing ridiculous,” Ward reportedly wrote on Facebook according to NBC News.
Ward left Froedtert to go to another hospital at around 7:30 p.m., but never made it. She collapsed soon after and was rushed back to Froedtert where she was pronounced dead.
“How can you triage someone with shortness of breath and chest pain, and stick them in the lobby?” Ward’s cousin, Andrea Ward, said according to the Journal Sentinel. Andrea launched a Go Fund Me account to raise funds for her cousin’s funeral.
A rep for Froedtert expressed condolences over Ward’s death . “The family is in our thoughts and has our deepest sympathy,” a rep for the hospital said in a statement. “We cannot comment further at this time.”
Ward had previously been told that she developed an enlarged heart during her pregnancy. Her baby died last March after the baby’s umbilical chord wrapped around the its neck.
Although heart disease is the leading cause of death among men women in the U.S., the risks are even higher for black women. According to 2017 statistics, nearly half of black women over the age of 20 battle some type of heart disease.
Black women are also at higher risk of dying from pregnancy complications. While there are several variables at play (like a lack of access to proper health care), the larger issue is that black women are often “undervalued,” noted Dr. Ana Langer, director of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in an interview with the American Heart Association.
“[Black women] are not monitored as carefully as white women are,” said Langer. “When they do present with symptoms, they are often dismissed.”
Ward’s family are reportedly scheduled to meet with the hospital next week. The hospital has received numerous online complaints over the years, many of which involve billing issues but also treatment and long wait periods.
A Yelp review posted last year warned patients not to believe the 23-minute wait time touted at the hospital. The woman and her ailing child left the hospital after waiting for six hours “without being evaluated other than a [five-minute] ‘triage.’”