Tashonna Ward, a 25-year-old daycare teacher from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, reportedly passed away on January 2 while attempting to seek medical care for chest pains.
Now, Ward’s family is seeking answers from Froedtert Hospital, where she spent over two hours in the emergency room before she left to find more urgent care. Soon after leaving, she collapsed and would later die.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office has not determined a cause of death. Their report also doesn’t say whether Ward was admitted or seen by a doctor at the hospital before she left.
“The family is in our thoughts and has our deepest sympathy,” A spokesperson for Froedtert Hospital said in a statement. “We cannot comment further at this time.” According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, officials did not answer questions about the death or general emergency department procedures.
Ward’s family said they are scheduled to meet with representatives from the hospital next week.
“How can you triage someone with shortness of breath and chest pain and stick them in the lobby?” Andrea Ward, Tashonna’s cousin said. “Froedtert needs to change their policy.”
Ward initially had chest pain and trouble breathing while working that afternoon. Ward’s sister reportedly drove her to Froedtert. Tashonna checked in at 4:58 p.m., according to the medical examiner’s report.
According to the Journal Sentinel, hospital staff checked her heartbeat with an electrocardiogram, which appeared to be normal, according to the report. A chest X-ray revealed Tashonna had an enlarged heart, a trait she already knew she had.
Ward was told she had developed an enlarged heart during a 2019 pregnancy, which resulted in her baby dying due to being strangled by the umbilical cord. Cardiomegaly, which can be temporary or permanent, can put a person at greater risk for blood clots, cardiac arrest and other heart issues.
The medical examiner’s report doesn’t indicate a wait time that was provided to Ward but does state she left at around 7:30 p.m. because she felt she had been waiting too long and wanted to go to an urgent care clinic. It had been about 2.5 hours since her arrival.
Andrea Ward learned of the tragic passing from her cousin’s mother, Yolanda.
“She called me and said, ‘My baby stopped breathing,’” Andrea said. “And I zoomed over. And she was swearing and she said she was just at the freaking hospital and they kept her waiting.”
“She’s very overwhelmed,” Andrea Ward added. “Too much stress. Her blood pressure has shot up. It’s all too much.”
According to the report, an ambulance arrived at 9:07 p.m. but at that point Ward was already unresponsive and was pronounced dead shortly afterward.