Denial of Care

Listening to Sarah McSweeney’s story about her denial of care in the hospital broke my heart. My mother is getting the same denial of care from Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health. They have given up on her. They wanted to take her off the ventilator and let her die instead of continuing to treat her.

Yesterday, they let us in the ICU to say goodbye to our mom for the last time. When we arrived, mom was still alert. Her mind is still strong. Her grip is still tight. She has been a fighter all her life. There’s still hope in her eyes. We spoke to her and asked her if she is willing to fight, she nodded her head as tears rolled down her eyes.

We sat down with the ICU doctor and nurses to discuss our options. The first option is to take her off the ventilator and let her die quickly. The second option is to keep her on the ventilator and to continue with the treatment. Although they presented us the options, they already determined that we should let her die.

When we decided that we would like to keep her on, they quickly asked us to leave the hospital. The nurse asked me to give them the consent to prone her, to stick a needle down her neck, and to do all type of invasive procedures on her. I knew she was trying to intimidate us because I already gave my consent to have a PICC line. My mother doesn’t need both a PICC line and a needle down her throat. Proning is fine if my mom needed it. I am not sure what other invasive procedures she was referring to. As it turned out, she never gave me any paperwork to sign. I reminded her that I have authorized full code for my mother. She said they will call me to get the consent. They never called.

We went home in disbelief and disappointment. The physicians and nurses at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health don’t seem to have any compassion for a human life. My mother’s life is in their hands and they just wanted to get rid of her. I understand her condition and her surviving chance is very slim. If they give all they can and she won’t make it, we will accept the outcome. Giving up on her when she has a fighting chance is just cruel and inhuman.

I am not sure if sharing this information will have any repercussion on my mom, but they are now doing the bare minimum for her. I have been waiting by the phone all day long to get an update on her condition, but no one had reached out to me. I called in and I could hear the gasp from the staff telling each other, “It’s the family that came in yesterday.” The nurse didn’t even bother to give me an update. She asked me, “What do you want to know?” Of course, I wanted to know everything about my mom. Why else would I call? Her respond was, “She is still the same.”

When I requested to have the attending doctor speak to our family medical advisor, the nurse sounded amuse. She put me on hold, but I could still hear her saying, “He said something about a medical advisor.” She came back and told me that the doctor won’t have time to talk to everyone. I understood that and I said the doctor won’t need to talk to me. He would just need to give a prognosis to our advisor. Because our advisor is a medical doctor, the conversation from doctor to doctor would be better. Our advisor who we trust can help us make our decision. Even that seemed like too much to ask for a dying person.

We are going through the darkest time of our life and the physicians and nurses at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health aren’t make it easier for us. I am deeply hurt and appalled. I hope there are still healthcare workers in the hospital who still have love, compassion, respect, and the willingness to treat sick people. This is America and we are better than this.

Bonjour Vietnam