Skip to comments.Disabled woman would cry "help me" caregivers claim
Posted on 09/04/2003 10:09:25 AM PDT by attagirl
Disabled Woman Would Cry 'Help Me,' Caregivers Claim By Jeff Johnson CNSNews.com Congressional Bureau Chief September 03, 2003
(Editor's note: This report contains quoted language and descriptions of alleged multiple instances of denied medical care that some readers may find offensive.)
(CNSNews.com) - A federal judge Tuesday refused to stop a Florida court from ordering the removal of a disabled woman's feeding tube at the request of her husband. However, the judge gave the woman's parents ten days to amend their lawsuit against the husband, the hospital caring for the woman and the hospice where she is being kept in anticipation of her death by starvation or dehydration. The lawsuit also named the husband's attorney as a "non-party co-conspirator" to the alleged violations.
Robert and Mary Schindler filed an emergency complaint Saturday with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa in an effort to block their daughter's husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, from moving forward with plans to remove his wife's feeding tube. Thirty-nine year old Terri Schindler Schiavo suffered a brain injury in 1990 under questionable circumstances. That injury, complicated by a lack of therapy for more than a decade, has required that she be given nutrition and hydration through a gastrostomy or "feeding tube."
Since receiving a $1.2 million medical malpractice award on behalf of his wife, Schiavo has provided only subsistence care for her and, based on affidavits included with the Schindlers' suit, allegedly forbidden medical professionals from providing his wife with any therapy or rehabilitation. He is currently allowing her to receive limited medical treatment for a severe infection under a court order.
Former caregivers file affidavits supporting allegations
Three medical professionals who had cared for Terri in the past filed affidavits accompanying the lawsuit, disputing Michael Schiavo's claims that his wife was in a "Persistent Vegetative State," which is the requirement under Florida law for a feeding tube to be removed. The medical experts also chronicled a long history of alleged denial of care and therapy by Schiavo.
Carolyn Johnson, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), cared for Terri in a nursing home in the early 1990s. She described her shock at being ordered not to provide the same care for Terri as a patient in the same room with a similar brain injury was receiving.
"I learned, as part of my training, that there was a family dispute and that the husband, as guardian, wanted no rehabilitation for Terri," Johnson explained. "Once, I wanted to put a cloth in Terri's hand to keep her hand from closing in on itself, but I was not permitted to do this, as Michael Schiavo considered that to be a form of rehabilitation."
Another CNA, Heidi Law, cared for Terri at a convalescent center in the mid and late 1990s. Law described similar orders she received not to encourage Mrs. Schiavo's recovery.
"I know that Terri did not receive routine physical therapy or any other kind of therapy. I was personally aware of orders for rehabilitation that were not being carried out," Law alleged in her affidavit. "Even though they were ordered, Michael [Schiavo] would stop them. Michael [Schiavo] ordered that Terri receive no rehabilitation or range of motion therapy."
Law also alleged that her attempts to document Terri's potential for improvement were thwarted.
"I made extensive notes and listed all of Terri's behaviors, but there was never any apparent follow-up consistent with her responsiveness," Law said. "There were trash cans at the nurses stations that we were supposed to empty each shift, and I often saw the notes in them."
Law directly disputes Michael Schiavo's claim that Terri is in a Persistent Vegetative State, as well. In her affidavit, she detailed how she routinely provided Terri with a wet washcloth filled with ice chips to keep her mouth moistened and, on at least three occasions, fed Terri flavored gelatin.
"I personally saw her swallow the ice water and never saw her gag. [Another CAN] and I frequently put orange juice or apple juice in her washcloth to give her something nice to taste, which made her happy," Law recalled. "On three or four occasions I personally fed Terri small mouthfuls of Jell-O, which she was able to swallow and enjoyed immensely."
Nurse recalls Schiavo asking, 'When is that bitch gonna die?'
Carla Sauer Iyer was a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at the same convalescent center in the mid 1990s, and also cared for Terri. She described Mr. Schiavo as being "focused on Terri's death.
"Michael [Schiavo] would say, 'When is she going to die? Has she died yet?' and 'When is that bitch going to die?'" Iyer charged. "Other statements which I recall him making include, 'Can't anything be done to accelerate her death, won't she ever die?' When she wouldn't die, Michael [Schiavo] would be furious."
Conversely, Iyer said that when she would have to call Schiavo to inform him of a downturn in Terri's condition, Schiavo would be elated.
"Michael would be visibly excited, thrilled even, hoping that she would die," Iyer recalled. "He would blurt out, 'I'm going to be rich,' and would talk about all the things he would buy when Terri died, which included a new car, a new boat and going to Europe, among other things."
Iyer also described incidents of Terri Schiavo talking, moving voluntarily and responding to external stimuli, descriptions that Iyer said were removed from Mrs. Schiavo's medical records. Both Law and Iyer reported Terri verbally communicating, also contradicting Michael Schiavo's claim that his wife was in a Persistent Vegetative State.
"During the time I cared for Terri, she formed words. I have heard her say 'mommy' from time to time, and 'momma,'" Law recalled. "She also said 'help me' a number of times."
Iyer described Terri as "alert and oriented," and said Michael Schiavo "systematically distorted" Terri's medical condition.
"Terri spoke on a regular basis while in my presence, saying such things as 'mommy' and 'help me,'" Iyer recalled. "'Help me' was, in fact, one of her most frequent utterances. I heard her say it hundreds of times."
Attorney named as 'non-party co-conspirator' to civil rights violations
The lawsuit filed by Terri's parents accuses Schiavo, both personally and in his official capacity as Terri's legal guardian, of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act for refusing to provide appropriate medical care and rehabilitation therapy, which are required by the law and for seeking to deprive her of nutrition and hydration, which is forbidden by the law.
George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney and a noted author and advocate in Florida's so-called "right to die" movement, is also named as a "non-party co-conspirator" in the lawsuit. The Schindlers allege that Schiavo, with Felos' help, sought to deprive Terri of her due process rights under the Fifth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The suit charges that Terri was denied a guardian ad litem during most of the legal proceedings in which her husband sought to end her life and, the remainder of the time, suffered from "ineffective assistance of counsel, due process violations, and blatant conflict of interest with Terri's guardian, defendant Michael Schiavo," who is responsible for seeing that her legal interests are represented.
The only guardian ad litem and the only attorney to represent Terri prior to her parents' intervention in the case were removed when the attorney suggested that Michael Schiavo had a conflict of interest that prohibited him from serving as Terri's guardian.
The complaint also alleges that Schiavo and Felos conspired to deprive Terri of access to her priest in violation of the First Amendment and that the use of a 1999 Florida law in her case represented a Fifth Amendment due process violation of the constitutional prohibition on ex post facto legislation since Mrs. Schiavo had suffered her injury in 1990.
All of the cumulative rights violations are alleged under 42 USC 1983, which provides that, "Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress."
The hospice where Terri Schiavo is being kept and the hospital where her infection was supposed to have been treated are also accused of violating the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. That law requires that "handicapped" receive comparable medical care to that given able-bodied patients with similar conditions or injuries. Both facilities are subject to the Rehabilitation Act because they receive federal Medicare funding. The hospital is also charged with violating provisions of the Social Security law in 42 USC 1395dd, which requires the examination and appropriate treatment of emergency medical conditions and forbids the discharge of patients before their conditions are stabilized. The Schindlers believe their daughter was prematurely discharged from the hospital on more than one occasion in an attempt to hasten her death.
Felos accused the Schindlers of trying to subvert the Florida justice system.
"The purpose of this lawsuit is to invalidate the lower court's decision," Felos told the Tampa Tribune Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara gave the Schindlers ten days to file an amended version of their lawsuit and offered Felos an additional ten days to respond. He would not, however, block a hearing scheduled for Sept. 11, during which Pinellas-Pasco Florida Circuit Judge George Greer is expected to set a date for Terri Schiavo's feeding tube to be removed.
Attorneys for both sides told reporters after the emergency hearing Tuesday that they do not expect Greer to set that date any earlier than the 20-day period set by the federal court for the Schindlers' amended complaint and Felos' response.
"A Unit Of Excrement."
New thread for the ping list if you want, Kim. And if anyone wants to be added to the Terri Schiavo list, contact kimmie7.
So it seems. Yet how few people there are who care! Even the so-called conservatives are indifferent. For instance, check the threads here on culture rot (porn, abortion) or on the avatars of that same rotten culture (Arnold). It's mostly "judge not" and "live and let live."
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