Monday, November 26, 2012

Let's talk about death squads

I'm the first one to admit how much I hate politics
and I hate having to play stupid political games,
especially in the workplace. But of all the places
I've worked in my lifetime, I've never had to play
more political, bull shit games, than I did as a
Social Services person in a nursing home setting.

In fact, if nursing home Administrators were as
concerned about the residents living there as much
as they were about those political games, even
traditional nursing homes would be better places to
live. In my book, politics has no place in a nursing
home where it simply messes up peoples lives and
makes no sense at all.

Recently many people have been quite upset over
the public health care debate because certain
factions in the debate seem to be fixated on what
some have dubbed ‘death squads.’ The death squad
debate seems to stem from some people thinking it
will be mandatory for physicians to have end of life
discussions with elderly patients. If this is what
some people consider death squads, then nursing
homes in America have already been acting as such
death squads, it is simply that no one noticed or
cared, until we started to debate public health care.

If Americans think President Obama has placed
stipulations in his health care proposal about ‘death
squads’ because they think it will be mandatory for
older people to discuss end of life plans with their
doctors, then nursing homes have always fit this

Staff members in the nursing homes, where I've
worked, were always approaching me to ‘discuss
end of life, or Hospice plans’ with the elderly and
their families. It seems nursing home staff
eventually do get tired of sending elderly people to the ER when they become ill because ‘the ER says
they cannot do anything more for them anyway’ as
the reasoning goes.

Unfortunately they are correct because Emergency
Room personnel will only do so much and
apparently feel time and life saving efforts are
‘wasted’ on very old, very frail people. The
problem, when the elderly decide to get hospice
services, is Medicare will not pay for any more
room and board in a nursing home, so families have
to pay out of pocket for their loved one to stay in
the nursing home, which can be a significant cost.

I recall one of our residents who had a very sedentary  lifestyle, sitting her chair all day long, a fondness for sweets and she was over weight.  One morning I came to work to find out she was dead.  It seems she had diabetes, the kind where you should be on insulin.  Apparently those lovely nursing home nurses and doctors never saw fit to give her a blood sugar test.  She went into a diabetic coma and died all in one night.

Another lady was experiencing acute heart burn every evening when she tried to sleep.  Her husband kept telling the nurses, who, in turn, ignored his pleas.  Finally one of the nurses said she would give her an antacid each evening.  Well, well, a few night later that lady was rushed to the ER and suffered a massive coronary and died.  Even I know that acute heart burn can mean a pending heart attack.  But, hell, when people get old, no one seems to think they need quality health care.

So my advice: STOP believing all the BS you have been told by those who hate the idea of health care for all.  I think it can only improve on an already bad medical system that charges huge amounts of money while killing people in droves, especially the elderly, without batting an eye.  

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