Newhall resident shares story of mother’s death due to COVID-19

Rose Salamone was 94 when she died Saturday, April 11, 2020, of symptoms related to COVID-19. Photo taken in November 2019. Courtesy

Rose Salamone, a 94-year-old Santa Clarita resident, died at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital at 11:53 p.m. on Saturday due to complications with COVID-19. 

Her family was not able to see her for three weeks due to the quarantine at Oakmont of Valencia, and they wouldn’t be able to see her for the week she spent at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. 

And, they won’t be able to attend her funeral, as a result of the countywide stay-at-home order. 

Her son Thomas Salamone is one of four children, three of whom — including himself — live in the Santa Clarita Valley. After their father died five years ago, the Salamones moved their mother into the Oakmont of Santa Clarita facility, and later to Oakmont of Valencia. 

The Salamones first learned, according to Tom, that an Oakmont of Valencia employee had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in early March. Four days later, they received a letter from the facility indicating one of the employees had been diagnosed. He said they don’t blame Oakmont for their mother’s death, and added there’s been no discussion of legal action against the facility. 

Initial lockdown

The family at one point contemplated having Rose move in with one of her children. 

“But she never wanted to live with us, she kind of wanted to be by herself,” said Tom. “She was the type of woman who didn’t want to put us out, even at that age.”

After the initial positive COVID-19 test, Oakmont went into lockdown, with traffic in and out being reduced to only staff, with no outside visitors being allowed in. On April 5, Rose was tested for the virus, and by April 8, Oakmont contacted Tom and his family, informing them their mother was COVID-19 positive. 

“There’s not much we could do, because we couldn’t go there,” said Tom. “They called us up (Thursday, April 9) in the morning and they said her oxygen level was extremely low.” 

Isolation at Henry Mayo

Rose was transported to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and given supplemental oxygen through the use of a ventilator. Much like the situation at Oakmont, the family was barred from visiting their mother in the hospital due to the COVID-19 restrictions. 

“On Friday, we got to FaceTime with her with a nurse,” said Tom. “She wasn’t doing very good. … They were saying her oxygen level was dropping again.” 

One of the challenges, Tom said, was receiving information from the hospital staff because the family could not physically be there. Nurses and doctors spoke to them throughout the day via phone, but by Friday night, they received the call they never wanted. 

“At 11:30 p.m., the doctor … he said, ‘Your mom isn’t doing good at all. I see that you have the power of attorney,’” Tom remembers the doctor saying to him. “‘She does have a do not resuscitate (DNR)’ and he wanted to verify with me that that is what we wanted to do.”

‘Just keep her comfortable’

Tom remembers the doctor telling him that if her heart stopped, they would need to do compressions on his 94-year-old mom, probably breaking her ribs. 

“I said just keep her comfortable,” Tom said. 

Just before midnight Saturday, Rose died. 

His mother was someone who didn’t want to be a burden on anyone, throughout her whole life and until her last day, he said. 

“Even when she was in the hospital, even the nurse was saying, ‘Oh, she’s such a good patient, she tells me, ‘Don’t bother with me,’’” said Tom. “She’s one of those people that didn’t want people to dote on her, she really didn’t want to have people make a fuss over her.” 

Next week, Rose will be buried at Eternal Valley next to her husband of 66 years. Tom said his family cannot be in attendance due to recent policies enacted by both the cemetery and Los Angeles County in regards to COVID-19. Eternal Valley officials verified Thursday they are working in accordance with guidelines established by the L.A. County Department of Public Health. 

As of Monday, Oakmont of Valencia has had eight residents test positive for COVID-19, and two staff members. Oakmont officials were unavailable for comment as of the publication of this story.

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