Family says DMC Harper University lost woman’s belongings after COVID-19 death

Family says DMC Harper University lost woman’s belongings after COVID-19 death
Family says DMC Harper University lost woman’s belongings after COVID-19 death

DETROIT – When the numbers of COVID-19 related deaths are reported, each and every number is a person, but every family has a story to tell.

One story we continue to hear as families deal with losing a loved one, hospitals are losing their personal items.

Update: April 30, 2020 -- Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 41,379; Death toll now at 3,789

Shontelle Mathis was a kind soul. She was 46-years-old and a home health care worker. Her family believe she may have caught coronavirus from someone she was caring for.

Mathis went to the Detroit Medical Center’s Harper University hospital March 21.

“The last text I got from her, they told her they were going to put her in the ICU," said her sister, Keena Willians. "No one heard from her after the 24th.”

Williams received a phone call March 31 informing her Mathis died at the hospital.

While dealing with her sister’s death, Williams said she is also dealing with the unexpected stress that the hospital claims her sister’s personal belongings -- cash, bank and credit cards, jewelry, iPhone and car keys -- were handed over to the funeral home. The funeral home said only Mathis’ remains were handed over.

“I talked to an LT and he said no property was logged," Williams said. "No property, but her truck is still parked in the structure and that was on the 2nd. On the 3rd, we had to pay a locksmith for a new key to get her truck off the property.”

Williams had to pay $175 to have a key made for her sister’s vehicle to get it out of the hospital’s parking structure.

“He is still trying to put it on the funeral home, direct me to customer service," Williams said. "I said, 'Sir, her property wasn’t logged. You said she had no property. She had a cell phone she was communicating with us inside the hospital.”

Williams said she wants answers and her sister’s belongings has sentimental value to the family.

To make matters worse, as she is trying to track her sister’s belongings down, now Williams is also battling coronavirus at home.

The Detroit Medical Center released the following statement:

"Hospitals in metro Detroit have faced unprecedented challenges due the COVID-19 pandemic.

The demand for care during this crisis has put a strain on hospital resources, and in some instances has created issues related to patient belongings.

We are working with the family to resolve any issue with their loved ones belongings.

Our sympathies go out to the Mathis family for the loss of their loved one."

Anyone who believes they might have coronavirus should follow the CDC guidelines. has a list of resources available to those concerned about COVID-19.

More information on coronavirus (COVID-19):

About the Authors:

Shawn Ley is an Emmy-Award winning reporter. In more than 20 years covering stories in television news, Shawn’s reporting has taken him from war-torn eastern Europe, to reporting from an F-16 fighter jet and now to the fast and furious breaking news of Detroit.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.