"I asked if he had to die alone, and the doctor said I could come say goodbye. When I got to the hospital I had to argue with 3 different security guards to let me go to the ER," she wrote. "I stood my ground and they went back to fetch a nurse who let me in."
The doctor then told her that it was a false alarm and "that his numbers were now better and he was going to be transferred to the ICU, where he could get the care he needed. He was on a respirator and was sedated, so he was not in pain, or at least aware of the pain."
When they finally transferred him to the ICU, Lisanti "walked 3 blocks towards home and the doctor called me to say he was gone, his heart and lungs just stopped beating from all the pressure they were under."
"He was only allowed in the hospital until he was most certainly dying, and then he languished in ER for 14 hours while they tested him for corona, which he obviously had, and struggled to find someone to take him upstairs to ICU," Lisante summarized.
"And now I have to grieve alone in quarantine," she wrote, before urging her followers: "Please know that I write this not for sympathy, but to let you know the reality of this disease and our country's lack of preparation for it."
Merrill's daughter Laura, who originally broke the news of her father's death, confirmed the details of her stepmother's harrowing story to Billboard on Tuesday (March 31), sharing the moment at the hospital when she had to say goodbye.
"They made me put on all the protective gear, the eye shield, the face mask," she explained. "I went in and I sat next to him and held his hand and kissed him. He just seemed very peaceful, but breathing on the ventilator, which was shocking to see."
"We're so lucky that my stepmother is such a bossy person and got us in there to say goodbye," Laura added. "She's very persistent. A lot of families don't have that. This is the reality of this.
"I was emotional and the reality was setting in to me, because I was told we can't have a funeral," she continued. "I have to self-quarantine, my stepmother has to self-quarantine for two weeks. We can't see anyone. We can't mourn like a family together.
"I feel like I'm in a bad sci-fi movie. You think that this wouldn't happen to you," she explained. "I was joking about it a week ago, making fun and sharing memes about the coronavirus. We were so protective of my grandmother because she's 91. We never thought [it would happen to] my dad, who's 69 but acts like he's in his 40s. He's onstage singing and pouring his heart out every weekend. I just photographed his album cover last month and his album was coming out. He was ready to promote that."
She concluded by calling attention to the greater issue: "I'm self-quarantining. I'm starting to feel a little achy. What do I do? I have to sit and wait until I can't breathe, until I'm on my deathbed, to get into the hospital. This is absurd."