LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A tropical vacation has turned into a nightmare for a Polk County Fire Rescue firefighter and his family.
Andrew Rodriguez, of Lakeland, quickly flew to Puerto Rico in mid-March after discovering his son, Antonio, 7, was very ill with COVID-19.
“My wife called me and said my son had to be intubated. I was like, what? He left perfectly fine,” he said.
Rodriguez tells 8 On Your Side Antonio needed more intensive care than was offered at Mayaguez Medical Center so he had to be transported to Puerto Rico Women & Children’s Hospital in Bayamon.
But it would cost him.
“Suddenly it went up from $500 to $1,500. Just get my son to where he needs to go so I ended up paying what they asked for,” he said.
Doctors at Puerto Rico Women & Children’s Hospital recommended Antonio receive a round of Remdesivir, an antiviral medication to treat COVID-19.
It greatly improved Antonio’s condition but his parents did not want him to receive any more of the new treatment. Rodriguez says his son’s doctors however ordered another round.
“They did whatever they wanted to do with him and I had to sit back and watch. Being the parent that I am, if it’s going to hurt him, I’m like stop. Then they called security. They had security at my door. They wouldn’t let me out the room,” Rodriguez said.
8 On Your Side is awaiting a return call from the hospital to find out more about the policies.
Rodriguez expected his son to be discharged Wednesday.
He was told by a member of the COVID-19 surveillance team that he would have to remain in quarantine in Puerto Rico until April 23.
He was not ordered to be quarantined after he was exposed to his COVID-positive son a few weeks ago, only after he was discharged.
It came with a warning, he said.
“We will be following up with you. We will be phone calling you. We will be doing physical checks on you to make sure you are quarantined. It’s like they are attacking me ever since I stood up for my kid at the hospital,” said Rodriguez.
8 On Your Side has reached out to the Department of Health in Puerto Rico to inquire about this quarantine policy.
The CDC does not recommend isolation for someone exposed to COVID-19 if they are fully-vaccinated and are not showing symptoms of COVID-19.
However, Rodriguez says he is vaccinated.
CDC recommends people do not travel to Puerto Rico right now, ranking it at “level 4, very high level of COVID-19.”