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The Villages
Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Daughter of longtime Villager demands answers about mom’s death from COVID-19

The daughter of longtime Villager is locked in a battle with a local long-term care center over her 100-year-old mother’s death following a positive COVID-19 test.

Mildred DuBovy moved to The Villages in 1991 and spent the last three years of her life at Lake Port Square in Leesburg.

Jane DuBovy, who lives in Pacific Palisades, Calif., recent sent a letter to Lake Port Square in Leesburg demanding answers about the circumstances surrounding the Jan. 8 death of her mother, Mildred DuBovy. Mildred, who moved to the Historic Side of The Villages in 1991 from Huntington Beach, Calif., and enjoyed an extremely active lifestyle for many years, had been a resident of Lake Port Square for three years and was suffering from severe dementia.

In her Jan. 21 letter to George Fernandez, an administrator at Lake Port Square, Jane DuBovy recalled receiving a phone call on Dec. 24 informing her that her mother had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been moved to a different building. Jane, who had power of attorney over Mildred for 10 years, said she was surprised by the phone call because she hadn’t given anyone permission to administer the test.

“Prior to this time, whenever the facility needed to provide my mother even a flu vaccine, my permission was requested in advance,” Jane said. “To the question what symptoms she had, the reply was – no symptoms.”

Mildred DuBovy thoroughly enjoyed The Villages lifestyle after moving to the Historic Side of the community in 1991.

Jane said that her mother had been in the same bed in the same building of the facility for several years before being moved. Because of the dementia, she said her mother would have been “anxious” about the change in location.

Mildred DuBovy served in the Army during World War II.

Jane also said she was “appalled” that her mother was moved to a different building with just her nightgown and slippers. She said she had sent her mother a special cuddling dog for Christmas that would provide her comfort and would react reassuringly to her voice. She said she also had been told that her mother had a stuffed monkey that she kept with her at all times, but both items apparently were left behind.

“She had nothing personal that could provide her comfort,” Jane said.

After multiple attempts to get information, Jane said she received an “urgent” phone call on the morning of Jan. 8 saying she had to sign insurance forms that would allow a swallowing specialist to examine her mother, as she had not been eating for 10 days.

“This was the first that I was learning that she hadn’t been eating and I was shocked that this much time had passed before anyone reached out to me,” Jane said, adding that she also was surprised that under such urgent circumstances she was required to sign a document authorizing care.

“In all prior times whenever my mom needed something, I was able to give verbal permission to ensure her quality of care,” Jane said. “Certainly, if this was urgent, I would have thought that verbal permission would suffice until I could access the email, sign and return it.”

Former Villager Mildred DuBovy, center, with daughters Joan Wheeler, left, and Jane DuBovy.

Later that same day, Jane received the shocking news that her mother had passed away.

“I was shocked by the change in circumstances,” she said. “I was not told how she had died. No one asked me what I wanted to occur next. As I’m not familiar with this type of circumstance, I didn’t know what the next step was.”

The following day, Jane said she received another shocking phone call from a funeral director at Beyers Funeral Home and Crematory.

“No one from Lake Port contacted me regarding the removal of my mother from your facility,” Jane wrote in her letter to Fernandez. “I found out that the body was already moved to the wrong funeral house without my permission. This caused additional undue stress on what was already a shock.”

Former Villager Mildred DuBovy died Jan. 8 at Lake Port Square in Leesburg after testing positive for COVID-19 in December.

Jane said her mother had already paid for her final arrangements with All Faiths Cremation Society, so she called to have her body taken to the correct place. But she had to sign a document agreeing to take care of a “removal charge” from Lakeport to Beyers.

“That cost is $375, which I fully expect Lake Port to pay,” she said.

On Jan. 11, Jane said she was told by a representative at Lake Port Square that her mother’s cause of death wasn’t in any notes and she would need to call back and speak with the night staff.

“I was amazed that this vital information was not available to me,” she said.

Jane added that in prior meetings she had been told if she wasn’t happy with the care being provided to her mother, she should consider moving her to a facility closer to her in California. Jane said she was at first “shocked” and then “angry” because she felt like her mother was being treated as “another bed filler.”

“How could I possibly move her 3,000 miles away, to a place where she hasn’t lived for over 30 years, during a pandemic?” Jane asked.

Pete and Mildred DuBovy both served in the Army.

Jane’s next call was to the medical group that had treated her mother – a call that led to more shock.

“The last time a doctor had actually seen my mother was in mid-November,” she said, adding that a physician assistant visited with her on Dec. 21. “No doctor or any other medical professional had seen my mother since she allegedly tested positive for COVID.”

To make matters worse, Jane said, she received a box of her mother’s personal items on Jan. 20 that contained “mostly broken” picture frames and was missing the special picture book she had put together for her mother titled “Mildred’s Memories.” She said the cuddling dog was included but something had been spilled on its fur, which was matted.

“Nobody took care in placing those items in the box,” she said. “There was some bubble wrap on the top of the box but the individual items were not wrapped carefully, which resulted in the carnage I saw when it was opened.”

Jane recalled that her mother had an “incredible love of life,” even as diminished as it was. She pointed out that Mildred had been able to communicate with her speech therapist and had shared stories of being a nurse for 40 years, serving in the Army during World War II, raising four children while working full time, teaching nursing at a community college and working as a real estate agent and model. She also played golf until she was 86 and duplicate bridge until she was 90.

Mildred DuBovy enjoyed dressing up on a cruise.

“When COVID hit and the facility locked down, the 100th birthday party we had planned had to be put on hold. I was worried,” Jane said. “My mother wasn’t physically sick and had never really been but I was concerned that she wouldn’t get the human attention that she sought and needed. She was deprived of activity and contact with her family.”

Jane said she tried to arrange video calls but there always seemed to be issues with either staff members or the time difference.

“What I believe to be true is that in her home of 3 years, my mom died of loneliness,” Jane said to Fernandez. “And she died of this on your watch.”

Mildred DuBovy was all smiles with her grandson.

On Thursday, Lake Port Square Executive Director Lisa Kinsella refused to comment specifically on Jane DuBovy’s letter.

“Lake Port Square does not publicly comment on the private matters of its residents or team members to protect their right to privacy,” she said. “Our top priority has always been the well-being and safety of our residents since the onset of the pandemic, and we have strictly adhered to all guidance from local, state and federal health authorities. We are saddened by any resident who has passed during this pandemic and their family and friends have our heartfelt condolences.”

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