DEL CITY, Okla. - Theresa Ahboah had been on dialysis for 11 years.
But her daughter says her death on November 22nd, 2016 was sudden and unexpected.
Now adding to her grief over that loss is the stress of trying to get the death certificate.
The only thing adorning her mom’s grave is a small, wooden, handmade cross.
Kim Smith says they don’t have the money for a headstone right now.
“Yes, I’m definitely, we’re wanting one,” said Smith.
Her mother’s tribe will reimburse them for part of the funeral expenses to help pay for a headstone but they need a death certificate.
And Smith has been unable to get one.
“He told us it normally takes about 7 days, normally to get a death certificate, I believe,” said Smith. “Still don’t have one.”
Ahboah died at Integris Southwest Medical Center.
The funeral director at Barnes Friederich Funeral Home in Midwest City says Ahboah’s doctor was not signing off on the death certificate; saying he was not the correct one.
And he says they’ve now turned to the Department of Vital Records for help.
“Our funeral directors do a great job of it. Our physicians do a great job of it. But occasionally you do run into a problem,” said Sue Bordeaux, Deputy Registrar in the Division of Vital Records at the State Health Department.
Bordeaux says that death certificate is required by law and is important for families seeking benefits and for the state to track causes of death.
She says by July 1 of this year, all physicians are mandated to begin using their new online system.
Since implementing that system, known as ROVER, most families are getting those death certificates quicker, within 11 days.
“We do work very hard behind the scenes to make sure they get here,” said Bordeaux.
“I feel like I’ve done everything and I feel like they’re just, like they don’t care,” said Smith.
We contacted officials with Integris Southwest Medical Center.
A spokesperson tells us the doctor says he was never approached by anyone about this until receiving a letter from a state agency this week.
Once he was aware of the situation, he promptly signed the death certificate Friday morning.
The hospital was unable to find any record of INTEGRIS being notified about this.
But the spokesperson says the fact that a death certificate was not issued until months after the death was unfortunate and not their common protocol.
They say there was obviously a miscommunication somewhere but that they were unable to locate exactly where that breakdown took place.