Daughter of a Maui businessman believes father caught COVID while in hospital care

Coronavirus took a Maui man's life. His family wants to make sure it doesn't take his business, too

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Loved ones of a Maui businessman who died last month are still grieving while trying to process his death — which they believe is a result of a COVID infection which began within hospital walls.

For 30 years, Stu Brandel ran the Discount Vacuum & Sewing Center in Kahului.

Everything screeched to a halt in August when he was admitted to Maui Memorial Medical Center after fainting and dealing with dizzy spells for a year.

He thought he’d be well enough to be released from the hospital in three days, but things took a turn for the worse.

“He did go in the hospital. He tested negative for COVID. He was about to get released and he tested positive for COVID. I was shocked,” his daughter Tamara Brandel said.

Just days before Thanksgiving, Stu passed away at 77.

She keeps one of the last voicemails from her father on her phone.

“Hi Tami. It’s your dad. I finally got the hospital to commit to the last two tests that I’m taking here and a date and time of release,” Stu said in the voicemail.

“I’ll talk to you soon. I actually do love you by the way bye sweetie.”

It’s the only voice message Tamara still has of her father.

“When I spoke to my dad, I said, ‘Dad, what do you want?’ He had his facemask on and he said, ‘I want to live. I want to live,’” she said.

Tamara believes her father became infected with COVID-19 in the hospital during the August outbreak.

She was able to visit her father just once in person while he was on a ventilator. She provided updates to friends and family on social media.

“Hey there. So today was not a good day. The only reason why they let me in the hospital is because my dad had a heart issue today,” she said in one post.

She wore a mask, shield and gown during the in-person visit.

“This is a very scary day. This whole process is scary and I just want my dad to get better,” she said. “I was able to hold his hand and tell him that I wanted him to fight.”

Maui Memorial Medical Center in a statement that they weren’t able to share details on Mr. Brandel’s care or COVID status due to pateint privacy laws.

Tamara added that she is going to remember her father for his larger-than-life personality, and hunger for outdoor adventures. She also is hopeful someone will keep his business running.

“I would love for some angel to swoop in and want to buy my dad’s business,” she said.

She hopes to fly from California to Maui this weekend to deal with family matters.

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