North Dakota’s first coronavirus victim was a Navy veteran. He declined a ventilator in hopes it would save someone else, family says

Roger Lehne, 93, died Thursday, March 26, on the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Fargo as a result of issues from the sickness, in keeping with a demise discover revealed Saturday. Anderson Household Funeral Residence in Mahnomen, Minn., is dealing with the preparations for funeral providers, that are anticipated to be held at a later date.

The North Dakota Department of Health announced Saturday there are 94 confirmed instances of the coronavirus within the state. Lehne is the one one that has died in North Dakota after contracting the sickness.

His niece, Julie LaVoy, mentioned her uncle refused to be placed on a ventilator, making his household marvel if he wished to put it aside for another person who would possibly want it.

“He confirmed us all how one can reside, and he completely confirmed us dignity at demise, too,” she mentioned, including Lehne was answerable for his personal life and wasn’t afraid to die.

Lehne’s 84-year-old spouse, Teresa, has been hospitalized at Sanford Well being with coronavirus, LaVoy mentioned. Teresa Lehne and different members of the family weren’t allowed to be at Roger Lehne’s facet when he died, LaVoy mentioned.

“I needed to Facetime together with her (Teresa Lehne) and inform her that her beloved husband of 60-plus years had handed away,” LaVoy mentioned. “You hear about coronavirus on the market, and you’re feeling unhealthy for everyone. However I had not even thought of how households have been going to be separated and left alone, not with the ability to be with their family members on the finish of life. It’s heartbreaking.”

Roger Lehne was not alone. Hospice nurses have been with him and saved household knowledgeable till the tip, LaVoy mentioned.

“He left a lovely message for his spouse,” she mentioned. “He mentioned how very, very a lot he liked her and that he’s going to overlook her.”

‘He was a jokester’

Born March 26, 1927, Roger Lehne grew up in Audubon, Minn. He enlisted within the Navy at age 17 towards the tip of World Warfare II. Although he wasn’t deployed, he nonetheless served as a medic, LaVoy mentioned.

“Certainly one of his tales was, he used to tease that he would tape (his sufferers’) ears right down to preserve them from shifting,” she mentioned. “He was a jokester.”

He attended what’s now Minnesota State College Moorhead and earned his grasp’s diploma on the College of North Dakota. He turned a instructor in 1954, educating in Waubun, Minn., earlier than taking a educating place in Mahnomen. He went on to develop into vice principal at Mahnomen Excessive College.

“He was very agency,” LaVoy mentioned, recalling how he would sit at a desk throughout lunch and ensure college students behaved. “He at all times had a toothpick hanging out of his mouth. He was world-famous for his toothpick.”

Lehne was 6 ft 2 inches tall, lean and had a presence about him that was wonderful, LaVoy mentioned. Regardless of being agency, he was everybody’s good friend and everybody revered him, she added.

“They might joke with him slightly bit, however they knew they couldn’t go too far,” she mentioned.

In 1958, he married Teresa, an elementary faculty instructor in Mahnomen. They’d keep there till shifting to Fargo’s Riverview Place, a Catholic Well being Initiatives retirement group.

Taking the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., with different veterans was “one of many highlights of his life,” LaVoy mentioned.

‘Above and past’

The state well being division introduced North Dakota’s first coronavirus demise Friday, March 27. It didn’t identify Roger Lehne, citing federal legal guidelines stopping the discharge of affected person info. The company famous he was from Cass County and had underlying well being situations.

LaVoy mentioned her uncle didn’t have any underlying well being points apart from his age. His voice and thoughts have been clear, identical to when he was a instructor and vice principal, she mentioned.

“Roger was in fabulous well being,” she mentioned. “He was wholesome as will be.”

The well being division additionally mentioned he contracted the illness by group unfold, that means the supply of the virus that made him unwell is unknown. His description matches that of a person recognized as having a constructive take a look at of coronavirus within the March 24 batch.

The Fargo VA, which confirmed the demise was at its hospital but in addition didn’t determine Lehne, applied restrictions on March 18 that prohibited guests from seeing inpatient veterans.

“The one exceptions shall be in compassionate instances, when veterans are of their final levels of life on hospice models,” the coverage says, although some exceptions might be made on a case-by-case base for sufferers in vital care.

A customer or companion is allowed in services for veterans who require help for outpatient visits, however that’s restricted to 1 per veteran, the hospital mentioned. These going out and in of the ability are also being screened.

“We’re very delicate to the separation this restriction causes our sufferers and their family members, however this measure of safety is crucial presently to maintain individuals protected,” the VA mentioned in a Fb submit.

A VA individual declined to say whether or not Lehne’s household was denied the chance to be with him earlier than he died, citing federal privateness legal guidelines relating to medical information.

Riverview Place additionally declined to remark for this story, deferring inquiries to the state division.

Folks might not understand the separation the coronavirus has prompted, LaVoy mentioned. She by no means imagined she wouldn’t have the ability to hug and luxury her aunt in individual if Roger Lehne died, or that the couple couldn’t say their last goodbyes to one another.

Teresa Lehne has a fever, however she’s not on oxygen but, LaVoy mentioned.

Medical employees on the VA and Sanford have accomplished their greatest to assist the Lehnes and their household, she added.

“We must always admire the medical employees,” LaVoy mentioned. “They’re going above and past. … We have to thank them a lot.”

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