Woman’s death certificate lists COVID-19, but family says she was never tested

The death certificate of a 79-year-old South Carolina woman reportedly says COVID-19 complications contributed to her July death — but the decedent’s family claims she was never tested or infected with the virus.

Joan Hill died July 31 while receiving in-home hospice care at her daughter’s Richland County, Hill’s granddaughter, Kimberly Klosterman told WIS News.

Klosterman — who said Hill had for years suffered from dementia — told the station the family received Hill’s death certificate a week later, which listed Alzheimer’s disease and COVID-19 complications as the cause of death.

“That was wrong,” Klosterman said. “She had never been tested before or after death, so I wasn’t sure how that could even be listed on her death certificate.”

Klosterman also said her grandmother showed no signs of the illness leading up to her death.

“She was breathing fine,” Klosterman said. “Her lung function was good up until the very end, so there were zero symptoms of COVID whatsoever.”

Gary Watts, the county coroner who responded to Hill’s death, told WIS that coronavirus was never mentioned to his office in her case.

“When we took the call originally, it was a patient with Alzheimer’s — nothing was mentioned about COVID-19 at that time,” he said.

“It’s certainly something that needs to be answered as to why that happened, and who made that decision, and why that decision was made if there was no indication at the time of death,” Watts said

Since Hill was under hospice care, the facility’s doctor signed off on her death certificate, the report said. Citing privacy restrictions, the hospice care provider, Amedisys, declined to comment to WIS on why it was done if Hill never received a test.

It’s unclear if Hill’s death was counted in state statistics as either a coronavirus death or a probable COVID-19 death.


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