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Family says Milwaukee woman died after waiting in ER for hours without treatment

NOW: Family says Milwaukee woman died after waiting in ER for hours without treatment

Updated: 10:26 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2020

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Ward family says after the CBS 58 story aired Tuesday, Froedtert Hospital’s president called Yolanda.

They say a meeting was set up for next week, and Yolanda can bring two people. She would like one of them to be an attorney.

The family says they were assured the hospital would not have lawyers in the meeting.

Federal law protects people who go to emergency rooms.

Hospitals must screen for, and treat, emergency medical conditions of patients.

As for wait times, Froedtert posts its average ER wait times online. They update every ten minutes.


Posted: 7:49 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2020

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A Milwaukee mother wants an explanation from Froedtert Hospital as she mourns her daughter who died last week after a visit to the emergency room.

Shonna Ward’s sister, Brianna, says she dropped Shonna off with symptoms of shortness of breath and chest pains.

The Ward family says Shonna was never admitted and on the way to another hospital, she died. She was 25.

Shonna posted a Facebook status as she waited, writing, “Idk what they can do about the emergency system at freodert but they damn sure need to do something. 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 dr.”

"I don't think they care,” said Yolanda Ward, Shonna’s mother. “I'm sorry but I really don’t think they cared about my daughter. She should not have been waiting out there that long."

Brianna says she picked Shonna up, then Shonna lost consciousness in the car.

She called 911, but paramedics couldn’t save her.

The family says the medical examiner told them Shonna died of an enlarged heart. They’re still waiting on the official toxicology report.

"She didn't even have a band on her wrist [when I picked her up] so she was never even processed in,” Brianna said. “All they did was take her to the back, do chest x-rays, send her back in the lobby. She was never even admitted."

Carolyn Ward, Shonna’s aunt, says the long wait time is unacceptable. She and Yolanda want to know the hospital’s treatment policy.

We asked Froedtert last week to explain what happened with Shonna.

The response from a spokesperson was “Due to patient privacy laws, we cannot comment.”

We followed up twice asking about general ER procedure and typical wait times when shortness of breath is a symptom.

Again, the response was “Due to patient privacy laws, we cannot comment further.”

"I need them to explain this to me, why they didn't treat my daughter when she was there," Yolanda said.

Yolanda says Shonna worked at a daycare and loved kids, and she loved to cook.

There’s a GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses. If you’d like to donate, click here.

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CFunk 126 days ago
And some people say US healthcare is the best in the world. This is so sad.
MarieAdaLiz 134 days ago
I worked triage before at a busy area hospital and our rule then was that anyone with symptoms of sob and cp are taken back right away. Someone dropped the ball here. A Nurse turned away a 21yr old pt for Cp once and assumed he was on drugs due to his age. He finally was taken back and was actively having a heart attack. Unfortunately these things happen more than they should. My condolences to the family for their loss.
Riley 136 days ago
there is a whole lot more to this story than what is printed here!!!
KarenSimonGibbs 136 days ago
First of all truly sorry for the loss of this woman and agreed chest pains she should of had a EKG right away.Now let me explain where I believe the problem comes from.First of all Primary doctors case loads are tremendously on overload.One because todays generations don't want to become Primary because they carry the largest of the paper load and jumping through hoops with the insurance companies.Second they have overloaded case loads because people run to them first sign of a cold or flu.Unless you or
Eldery a toddler or a person with compromising health issues.Go to the drugstore and buy some crap to treat it because the 20 minutes you spent with the doctor is all they are going to do is tell you the same.Just think how many patients they could of saw without the people with colds taking up their time.When they don't have a organized system for healthcare people will abuse it and run to the ER for idiotic problems.My hubby has a hundred dollar co pay for ER visits.I don't mind I think everyone should have a hundred dollar co pay and if the reason turns out to be ER needed then the co pay should be dropped but I bet this would limit people running to the ER for colds and minimal issues.Oh and lets not forget all the drug addicts running to them for pain meds.I refuse to take narcotics for some serious med problems because of the judgement you get when you tell them you're in pain. All in all though I believe the ER was negligent.This woman should of had attention immediate.Again so sorry for the loss.
LevanteJackson 137 days ago
Me and my wife went to saint Luke's at 2 and when we leave there ten 2 in the morning we waited all that time to get into the back and get seen and she win with the same problem chest pain trouble breathing head hurting and sign they said it was on there in the waiting roomand I had to take her to a whole new hospital the next day cuz she was still having trouble breathing chest hurting head and I'm little pain in our side we went to another hospital and got seen right away and they admitted her
ConnieMcKeag 137 days ago
Here's my take. I have never been to an ED that did not take your name, insurance info and set of vitals before being put out in waiting room. Typical Ed visit takes 2 to 6 hours. You will be bumped back by sicker people. It's called triage. People who walk in, have no idea what is truly going on in the back. Did any of these people let the staff know they were leaving? And why? They would have been reassessed. Unfortunately, the young lady probably had no KNOWN risk factors, and certainly wasn't in the age criteria for immediate care. It's flu season, and just about everyone is complaining of shortness of breath and chest pain. Sorry for the family's loss.
TMCAFEE 137 days ago
Some people should not share their comments!! This is not about abuse or race!
Froedtert is supposed to be the best but it has some of the worst people working "that's the problem" The Er system needs to be changed along with the staff. Less Nurse staff in the waiting room that's too busy talking, not observing nor admitting and More Doctors need to be in attendance. My personal experience with the ER was totally unprofessional... My child and I was in an car accident, came in an ambulance, of course Children's jumped right on... My turn I was taking over by the EMT, met a Nurse who wheeled me through and out into the ER lobby just to say I have to check in... Staying in that lobby for hours in pain, My son was released to Family and came to TAKE ME TO ANOTHER HOSPITAL after finding out I WAS NEVER CHECKED IN or checked on. Do you know how it feels to sit in an place where you thinking you are safe and cared for then truths hit you?? This is sad
Rose 137 days ago
As a provider in a busy central hospital ER, I can tell you what the problem is: too many people abuse the ER for nonsense & it ties the staff up, wasting resources. There aren't enough providers to see all the patient's, so the wait times get way out of hand. About 3/4 of our patient load are for: Check ups after minor car accidents, bumps & bruises, kids with fever/sniffles, adults with sniffles (who are looking for a work note) & STD checks. None of those things are appropriate for an EMERGENCY ROOM! So fix the public abuse of the healthcare system, so that hospitals can do what they were meant to do.
Jill Rose 137 days ago
NOT in this case. This girl did not come in with "the sniffles". She presented with shortness of breath and chest pain - two symptoms which should've gotten her triaged immediately.
Riley Jill 136 days ago
it would appear she was triaged and some testing done before she went to the waiting room.. and no where does it tell you what actually happened from start to finish.... this article just speaks of the family members take on what happened... and they were not at the er with her when she went the first time.. it sounds like, she left the hospital on her own when her mother picked her up before she was taken back .. there is a ton of information regarding this entire "story" that is no where in this article....
Grown 138 days ago
So so sorry for your loss. I went to ER Froedtert on November 14th 2019 with shortness of breath, spiked blood pressure and heart palpitations. I was told after waiting for a couple of hours that there will be a 10 hour wait. My family took me to another hospital where there was a few minute wait.

Froedtert has gotten so bad with caring for people these days
Daizygirl721 138 days ago
How devastating for this family! Never should have happened. Unfortunately wait times like this at pretty typical. And the take back do a quick test and make you sit for hours is also typical. I had to wait for hours after falling at home numerous times and my blood pressure plumented. The only way I got a room was to vomit repeatedly in the "second waiting room". Froedert has some of the best Dr's but the worst ER system. People are dying. Because they are WAITING. They need to get it together.
StephanieSpicer 138 days ago
Toke my 91 yr aunt there yesterday at 130pm stayed there until about 5pm they told me they was waiting for a bed for the doctor to see her no bed was available even at 5pm so we left . They have a enough of doctors and they should be honest race having nothing to do with the wait it's that they need more doctors
BrittMarie 138 days ago
I don't know if it was race. I know those type of symptoms were probably not taken seriously because she was a young woman. Unfortunately, the medical world needs to realize women and heart disease is important and should be taken seriously. They probably assumed, wrongly, that she was having a panic attack and dismissed her. My mom, at a different emergency room, had the same issues of being dismissed because they didn't think she was having a heart attack. And she had a strong history! I had to make them keep her. And, because they put her off, she died. Timing is so important for heart patients. They might have dismissed a young man too. Youth and gender were against her. I do not know about race. The thing is, I have been a heart patient all my life. I remember them trying to bring women to the forefront in my 20's and they are still trying and I'm in my 50's. That is totally ridiculous. This poor woman lost her life for absolutely nothing. For incompetence. For ignorance. My heart goes out to the poor mother and family for their loss. This shouldn't have happened.
Daizygirl721 BrittMarie 138 days ago
Totally agree. They need to fix what is happening in the ER.
Tonyladae13 138 days ago
I've had issues with this hospital in the past they are very unprofessional and also a lot of the nurses and some doctors are very racist and cruel to the patients especially the ones of color I've had had encounters where I was almost about to have a stroke because I was in so much pain and if it wasn't for the security team who are very good people especially one guy by the name of Carlton who is a very good guy I think I would have died in that hospital
Race. bring race in to it. That's all you got? That's not the issue at all. The city needs another large hospital.
OrangeMike 138 days ago
My friends in Canada and Europe are constantly horrified at what passes for a healthcare system in America. They can't understand how we tolerate not having some kind of actual tax-paid public health provider, whether you call it National Health or "Medicare for All".
Bogus.The wait times and quality of care in Canada and Europe are terrible. Read the facts, not what junk media tell you. Government tax-paid public health is not the way to go. All hospitals within Milwaukee County and most in Waukesha county are usually full at this time.The areas need more hospital beds, that's the answer. Since Milwaukee County went to no diversion, forcing ERs to accept patient's when there physically is no room and overwhelming staff, the wait times are up and incidents like this happen. People have to understand that only so much room is available. Adding more doctors or nurses may not be the answer; there physically is no room. ERs and hospitals can't magically create space to accommodate all the illness in the city. My thoughts and prayers go out to the young lady's family. Don't bring government or politics in to this tragic situation. The solution is to build another large hospital in the area, one than can accommodate a few hundred patients including a large emergency room. Moving on to Froedert, I no longer see providers there. They use a phone system where humans don't answer, they do not care about the patients. How they run their ER, I don't know. How they run their clinics, now that's awful.
You seem to be quite the expert on the NHS. But let me clear a few things up for you from personal experience. My mother is from England. We live here. My Gran had diabetes. She never had to wait for care or an appointment. She never had to pay for insulin. Two of my uncles had cancer. They had excellent care. Never had to pay for a prescription. Now to me. Here. I have cancer. My prescriptions are so expensive that my four grown children (two of which are serving in your Navy) have to pitch in to help pay for them. My SS and disibility aren't enough to cover the cost. Also the "wonderful Cancer Centre of America" doesn't accept anyone on medicaid or medicare. In Europe you're covered for cutting edge care. Experimental care. So don't talk about what you don't know. No system is perfect. But this one here leaves much to be desired. And don't tell me "to go there". My sons are here defending this country. I'll spend my remaining time with family.
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