While his family was aware that his condition was not great, they were shocked that news of this calibre was not delivered in person.
The patient, Ernest Quintana, died two days after arriving at the hospital, according to the Chicago Tribune - but the impersonal manner in which his doctor delivered the news to him and his family illustrate the odd ways that medicine is changing as technology and automation make their way into the hospital system. When the question of hospice care came up, the doctor shared a grim outlook: "I don't know if he's going to get home".
He passed away the following day. Annalisa Wilharm said that Mr Quintana's wife was told by a nurse "this is our policy, this is how we do things".
As she stood by her grandfather's side in the ICU and waited for his doctor, a robot wheeled itself into the room.
The doctor explains they can give Quintana morphine to make him more comfortable, but that would make breathing more hard. She told USA Today the machine was there to tell her grandfather how the hospital had run out of effective treatments.
She said after the visit, he gave her instructions on who should get what and made her promise to look after her grandmother.
She added: "He just got the worst news of his life without his wife of 58 years". Distorted by the speakers, the doctor's voice was inaudible to Ernest, leaving Annalisia to repeat everything he said to her grandfather.
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"We knew that we were going to lose him", Wilharm told CNN in a phone interview Saturday.
What she didn't expect was what happened after the nurse opened the door. According to Wilharm, they explained the hospital was small and the robot was used to make rounds at night.
"In every aspect of our care, and especially when communicating hard information, we do so with compassion in a personal manner", she said, adding that the term "robot" is "inaccurate and inappropriate". "This secure video technology is a live conversation with a physician using tele-video technology, and always with a nurse or other physician in the room", Kaiser Permanente said.
She continued that the technology allows a small hospital to "have additional specialists" assist with patient care around the clock.
In response, the senior vice president for Kaiser Permanente in south Alameda County, Michelle Gaskill-Hames, said that the situation was unusual and that the facility's officials "regret falling short" of the patient and his family's expectations.
"He was such a sweet guy", she said.