An elderly mother in Jacksonville, Florida, spent a night in jail this week for violating a local hospital's COVID-19 rules by refusing to leave the bedside of her daughter, who had just undergone brain surgery after suffering a stroke.
Lynn Savage, 70, was escorted from the hospital in handcuffs and booked in the county jail for trespassing Tuesday night, WJAX-TV reported. But she has no regrets over her actions.
"I stand by my actions 100%. I am not sorry that I made them take me out of there in handcuffs," the dedicated mother told the outlet.
She had been by her daughter Amber's side since 6:30 a.m. that day following the surgery. The news outlet noted that Savage's daughter is currently "non-verbal and partially paralyzed on the right side" after suffering a stroke and that Savage was present at the hospital for support and to serve as an interpreter.
But when 7 p.m. rolled around, a nurse notified Savage that visiting hours had ended and she would have to leave per COVID-19 health guidelines. Savage refused.
"I could not in good conscience and good heart leave her bedside not knowing how she was going to make it through the night voluntarily," she said.
Florida mom arrested after refusing to leave daughter's side at hospital | Action News Jax www.youtube.com
She noted that a doctor had asked her to come into the intensive care unit room to calm her daughter down post-surgery.
"As soon as I approached the bedside, she was fine," Savage recalled. "With all these people talking and all these things going on and she doesn't understand it and not being able to talk, she just was frantic."
As a former deputy sheriff in Ohio, Savage knew what her refusal would ultimately lead to, but she stayed anyway. She later told law enforcement that she preferred arrest to voluntarily abandoning her daughter, according to a police report.
The report added that security officers "spent a couple of hours" pleading with the mother to leave.
Savage confirmed to Action News Jax that she spent 24 hours in Duval County Jail and now has an Oct. 20 date in court.
"[It was] not an experience that I would ever want to do again for the rest of my life," she recounted. "It was horrible. It was filthy, it was more like an insane asylum with the women screaming and hollering and banging on bars and banging on walls. It was just terrifying, but I would rather be there than know that I had walked away from my daughter."
In a statement UF Health Jacksonville said, "Like health care organizations throughout the country, we have put policies in place to protect everyone from the COVID-19 virus, including patients, visitors, and staff. Information about visitation limitations [is] placed in areas visible to those entering our facilities."