It has been a little over 3 months since my father passed away. The decision to write about the circumstances of his death has not come easy. But it is an important story to tell so that others who find themselves in similar situations can see the truth and maybe do something before it’s too late. My father had dementia and it progressed a great deal over the last year. A few months before he died, he started having difficulty sleeping and paced the house anywhere from 24-36 hours at a time. He was becoming more anxious and confused, and it was clear we needed help. The doctor advised my mother to take him to the emergency room, which she did. They told her he needed to be transferred to a facility where they would regulate his medications because they didn’t have a psychiatric unit at the hospital. They said it would be a 2-3 day stay, so she agreed. My mom found out the following morning that there were no visitors allowed at the facility due to covid. We wouldn’t have allowed him to be brought there if we had known this.
That three-day stay turned into 25 days. My father went into that facility walking, talking, and eating and came out severely dehydrated, had kidney damage, was comatose, lost 21 pounds, and contracted covid. He had sores on his heels and buttocks from being left in a prone position for extended periods. When it was clear that his condition was dire, he was transferred to a local hospital. Within 2 days, the doctor told my mom he would not get better. He passed away less than a week later of a failure to thrive due to prolonged periods of a lack of hydration and nutrition. They murdered him, period. The way he died adds a whole new level to the suffering. I don’t know if this was a part of God’s plan for my father or not. But I do know that God used those sufferings and injustices inflicted upon him, for his benefit, and there is some consolation in that.
“We must stand up for the rights of our neighbor who is suffering from injustice; we must defend them all the more vigorously because we see Jesus present in them. This undoubtedly is our duty because of our love for others for Christ’s sake. We have no right to be ‘sleeping watchmen’ or dumb watchdogs. [cf Is 56:10] Whenever we see evil we must sound the alarm.”
Blessed Charles de Foucauld
There were a lot of warning signs that we didn’t react to in time. We just blindly trusted them because they were doctors and professionals who were supposed to help. We should have been more reactive to the issues that arose early on in his stay at the facility. The first indication that something was wrong was that there was no contact with a doctor for the first week my dad was there. When I questioned that, I was told the family usually communicates through the nurses. I explained that if we were allowed to be with my dad, we would have talked to the doctor multiple times already. We finally got a call, but only because I demanded it. My mom, sister, and I called to check on my dad daily and were given conflicting information on several different occasions. It was evident we were being lied to by the staff. I called twice a day. The first week he was able to speak, but after that, he became less and less responsive. It was clear he was being overmedicated. I talked to the social worker by chance one day and asked her several questions. She became irritated by my questions and refused to answer them. I wanted to know when we could get my dad out of there. She proceeded to tell me that he was violent and therefore a danger to himself and others. Basically, they weren’t going to release him to us and there was nothing we could do about it. Then she banned me from getting any further updates on my father’s care.
My dad didn’t die of covid. He didn’t even have any symptoms. He was yet another victim of the “covid rules” we are all too familiar with. Hospitals, psychiatric facilities, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities now have the power to block families from visiting their loved ones due to covid. I am not accusing all healthcare workers of abuse. I am pointing out that families should have the right to be with their relatives for a multitude of reasons. Most importantly, for their emotional support and well-being. The comfort of a spouse, parent, or child is vital. Your presence also allows you to see with your own eyes how they are doing. You will know if they are being over-medicated, and see how much they are eating and drinking, which is essential to staying alive. In a big way, your presence can protect them. The circumstances of my father’s death were avoidable. Who will take responsibility for his death? He was a human being who deserved dignity, love, and compassion. If we were allowed to be with him, he would be alive today. Instead, he was neglected to the point of death.
The hospital my dad was transferred to allowed us to be with him because he was dying. But, there were some shady practices going on there as well. They wanted his IV removed, and more drugs administered. This was particularly difficult for me because I had been through it before with my mother-in-law and it was horrible. I was very much against it. We wanted to take my dad home, so we talked to the hospice nurse about that. She agreed to help us but then wouldn’t return my mom’s calls to set it up. So my mother was forced to contact the hospice department at another hospital to get the ball rolling. Had she not done that, nothing would have happened. They couldn’t avoid us after that. They had to help us. But they repeatedly warned us if his vitals changed, he would not be released. I never thought we would get him out of that hospital, but God answered our prayers and brought him home. What a blessing it was for all of us, especially my mom and dad.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”John 3:16
There are ways to take action. The first thing you should do before placing a relative anywhere is check reviews. Had I looked up the reviews on the facility my dad was in, we would never have sent him there. Writing a review is also important because it can help other people make informed decisions. If you suspect neglect/abuse while a relative is in the care of one of these facilities, file a complaint with the state where the abuse is taking place. The state will go in and review all paperwork. If abuse is found to be valid the facility will be fined. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this at the time, but I will contact the State’s Attorney’s office to report the abuse now. No stone will be left unturned! You can also contact a lawyer. You’ll want to obtain a lawyer who will take the case pro-bono, meaning you won’t incur any out-of-pocket costs. But if you win the case, the lawyer takes a percentage of the payout. This isn’t going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, only that it may be a challenge. It is worth it. You should also get the patient’s medical records from all the healthcare facilities, this will help with a legal case. A lawyer may do that for you, but I wasn’t willing to risk them potentially changing any information, so I requested it right away. You can also file a report with the Better Business Bureau. What happened to my dad was wrong. They literally killed him. If I can bring awareness to people and help them informed, then I will have done a great thing. No one else should have to suffer the way my dad and our family have. He was my father, and death, well, it seems so final. But he lived his whole life to be with Jesus, and I know I will see him again. So I’ll place my trust in Jesus and follow the path the Lord has set before me.
Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord; and let eternal light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen
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