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Woman, 25, upset by emergency room wait heads to urgent care but dies

Tashonna Ward was at an emergency room for over two hours when she left to seek help at an urgent care center. She collapsed outside her car and later died.
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A Milwaukee woman went to the emergency room for chest pain, but after an hourslong wait to see a doctor, she left and went to seek help at an urgent care center. Before she could get inside, she collapsed near her car and died later.

Tashonna Ward, 25, arrived at Froedtert Hospital's emergency room with her sister at 4:58 p.m. on Jan. 2, according to a Milwaukee County medical examiner's report.

She was complaining of chest pain and wanted to see a doctor. Multiple tests were performed, and an X-ray showed that she had cardiomegaly, an enlarged heart, the report says.

Image: Tashonna Ward
Tashonna Ward.via Facebook

Ward's family told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that after the tests were performed, she was asked to stay in the waiting room until further medical care could be provided.

"How can you triage someone with shortness of breath and chest pain and stick them in the lobby?" Andrea Ward, Ward's cousin, asked the newspaper.

In a Facebook post on Jan. 2, Ward complained about how crowded the emergency room was.

In a second post, she said it was ridiculous that she had been waiting for hours even though her symptoms were chest pains and shortness of breath.

"I been here since 4:30 something for shortness of breath, and chest pains for them to just say it's a two to SIX hour wait to see a dr. Like that is really f------ ridiculous," the post read.

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According to the medical examiner's report, Ward left the emergency room around 7:30 p.m. because she "felt she was waiting too long and decided to go to an Urgent Care." She had been in the emergency room for about 2½ hours when she decided to seek help elsewhere.

About an hour after she left, the emergency room staff called her on her cellphone to check on her and were informed by her sister that Ward had collapsed near their car outside the urgent care center.

She was rushed by ambulance back to Froedtert Hospital, where she was pronounced dead just before 11 p.m.

Ward had previously been diagnosed with an enlarged heart, the medical examiner's report says. Her mother, Yolanda Ward, said that her daughter was due to give birth last March but that the baby was breech and died at a different hospital. It was during her pregnancy that Ward learned that she had developed an enlarged heart.

Yolanda Ward requested an autopsy to determine the manner and cause of death. The results are pending.

In a statement to NBC News, Froedtert Hospital said it could not comment because of patient privacy laws, but it extended condolences to Ward's family.

"We respect their wishes and privacy during this difficult time," the statement said. "They continue to be in our thoughts and have our deepest sympathy."