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Grandmother who died from COVID-19 remembered as family’s rock

Ann Griffin-McKenzie, 60, spent her last days confined to a gurney at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), according to her family.

She died from COVID-19 at 9:55 p.m. on Sunday, nearly two weeks after she was admitted for an ulcer.

“When we left her (on September 15), she was conscious and she was talking,” Griffin-McKenzie’s granddaughter, Jana Ward, told The Nassau Guardian.

“She just wasn’t eating because she had the ulcer. But, then we got called later that day and they said she was fighting for her life. Then, they said she had deteriorated and they had her sedated and ventilated for most of her stay.”

She continued, “A couple of days before she passed, they said her kidneys started to fail. We don’t know what treatment was given. They said they would try dialysis for her.”

Griffin-McKenzie’s niece, Tiffany Cleare, said doctors informed the family that the dialysis wasn’t cleaning her blood.

“It just wasn’t working,” she said.

Griffin-McKenzie’s son, Casey McKenzie, launched a GoFundMe campaign for her five days after she was admitted to PMH.

He wrote that his mother was “a God-fearing woman who has always been the pillar to help everyone and anyone”.

“Her door is always open if you need a place to sleep or meal to eat,” McKenzie said.

“Ann [was] always there with a smile on her face and never asking for anything [in] return. Suddenly and swiftly, she got ill. Princess Margaret [Hospital] staff are doing a superb job with helping our mother. But, medical personnel agree it is best if she was moved to a hospital in the states/Florida.”

He noted that the family needed $9,000 for a medical flight to transport her.

Roughly $2,700 was raised up to Sunday.

“A family friend said they would pay the rest,” Ward said.

“The day after she got it sorted and went to the bank, we spoke to the doctors. They said she (Griffin-McKenzie) was too critical to fly and if she were transported, she would die during transport.”

Cleare described the loss as “a blow for the family”.

“We weren’t expecting her death, her passing,” she said.

“Words can’t explain right now how we feel. She was our rock.”

Cleare said her aunt was “a gem”.

“My auntie, she was like my second mother because my mother hasn’t lived here for over 30 years,” she said.

“She was like my second mom. She helped me with my kids. She just was our pillar of strength.”

Ward added, “She was literally like the comforter of everyone, so it’s sad. The person that everybody wants to go to in this situation is the person we’re mourning. The comforter person is the person who’s dead, so it’s really hard.”

She said her family has been trying to collect her grandmother’s remains since Sunday.

They have been unsuccessful despite the Public Hospitals Authority’s recent plea for families to collect the bodies of their loved ones amid overcrowding in the morgue, according to Ward.

“It’s Tuesday and we’re still waiting for the doctor to sign off on the death certificate,” she said.

“So, they haven’t even released the body.”

There have been 91 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in The Bahamas. As of Monday, 13 deaths were under investigation.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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