Larry Enlow, a Gulfport musical fixture and co-founder of Enroy Foundation, a local arts charity, died on Sept. 11 after being admitted to Palms of Pasadena hospital with COVID and pneumonia. Enlow was 71 and was admitted to Palms of Pasadena with COVID, pneumonia and a sodium deficiency multiple times in August before his final admission Aug. 31, according to his widow, Maureen Kilroy.
Kilroy was surprised to learn that Enlow’s death certificate only listed the cause of death as myocardial infarction — the medical term for a heart attack. COVID is not listed on the death certificate Kilroy provided to The Gabber.
“He was admitted to the hospital with COVID pneumonia,” Kilroy said.
No autopsy was performed on Enlow, according to his death certificate.
Kilroy wants COVID added to her late husband’s death certificate and is also concerned about how coronavirus deaths are accounted for and tallied based on her experience.
“When the CDC and the State of Florida report COVID numbers and deaths, where do they get those numbers from?” Kilroy asked. She also noted that families of those who have died from COVID are eligible for funeral reimbursements of up to $9,000 per person. Death certificates need to indicate that COVID was a cause of death, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency which administers the funeral reimbursements. Kilroy said she did not need financial help for the funeral, but noted that discrepancies on death certificates could impact other families as well as official COVID counts.
Kilroy wants to have her late husband’s death certificate changed to indicate COVID as a cause of death to make sure his passing is accurately counted by the state and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Enlow was fully vaccinated and suffered from a breakthrough case of the virus.
Enlow and Kilroy were married for 38 years. They moved to Gulfport in 2009 and formed the Enroy Foundation — a charity promoting local music arts — in 2016. Locals knew Enlow well, both for his musical talents and his philanthropy. He played several instruments, including the Cajun accordion.
Enlow died at Palms of Pasadena hospital — which is owned by HCA Healthcare and its regional arm, HCA West Florida. Debra McKell, marketing director of HCA West Florida, said cause of death listings on death certificates are at the discretion of individual physicians. She said the hospital chain is not involved with those individual cases or determinations. Doctors and coroners have space to list multiple causes of death on Florida death certificates. They can be changed via a notarized affidavit from the attending physician or medical examiner that is then submitted to the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Vital Statistics.
Kilroy said a “hospitalist” physician at Palms of Pasadena signed Enlow’s death certificate and listed the cause of death.
Death certificates are also key to how public health agencies track COVID and other causes of death.
The Florida Department of Health collects COVID data — including cases, hospitalizations and fatalities. The state uses causes of death on death certificates to determine COVID fatality counts. COVID data reports go to the state health agency before local health departments. The Pinellas County office of the Florida Department of Health referred questions about death certificates, causes of death and impacts on COVID numbers to the agency’s headquarters in Tallahassee.
Officials at DOH headquarters did not respond to questions about death certificates and cause of death listings and their potential impact on COVID numbers. The CDC and National Center of Health Statistics compile COVID case and death numbers via reports from state health agencies and directly from death certificates, according to the agencies.
There have been more than 770,000 deaths attributed to COVID nationally including more than 61,100 in Florida, according to the CDC.
There have been more than 2,700 reported coronavirus deaths in Pinellas County.
HCA West Florida includes Palms of Pasadena and 13 other hospitals in the region including Northside Hospital and Largo Medical Center. The hospital chain also has some Florida political ties: US. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., was previously CEO of the hospital chain when it was known as Columbia/HCA. Scott resigned from that post in 1997 after Medicare overbilling resulted in $1.7 billion in fines against the hospital network.
Florida has also been an epicenter of fights over COVID policies, protocols and mandates with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis critical of vaccine mandates from the Biden administration and battling some local jurisdictions and school districts over pandemic policies.
The state recently approved measures fining employers who do not accept religious and medical COVID vaccine exemptions — setting up more court battles over the pandemic.