To Whom It May Concern,
Today is my mother’s Birthday! Our family is not able to celebrate with her, however we are blessed to know she is in Heaven.
Uncomfortable as it is to write this and bring it to public awareness, I know in my heart that, for the sake of others, this is a responsibility I cannot avoid.
On January 27, 2016, my mother, Maxine, was admitted to an in-patient hospice facility for pain medicine regulation. The plan was to transfer her back to the family home once her pain was under control. She had several health issues, but her vital signs were good. Upon entering the facility, she was sitting up, talking, eating and drinking. Unfortunately, a couple of days earlier, she had been diagnosed with tumors in her spine. That, along with severe osteoporosis, was causing her extreme pain. One round of radiation was administered in the hope that, along with regulating her medicine, she would get relief. We agreed the best plan would be to get her pain under control at the hospice before taking her home.
However, without even talking with or examining my mother, apparently only having read her chart and considered statistics, the hospice doctor ordered intravenous pain medications and sedation. She had already been given her pain meds that evening in the hospital before being admitted to hospice, but the hospice nurse said it did not matter… It would not hurt her. Mom was completely sedated and did not wake up until 10:30 the next morning. She asked for something to eat, Boost and water, but we were instructed by the staff, per doctor’s orders, not to give her anything!
It was our understanding that, even though she could not be cured, the hospice would regulate her pain medicine, but we were never advised that she would be heavily sedated and given no nourishment whatsoever.
The pain meds and heavy sedation continued for several days. We stayed with her 24 hours a day, never leaving her side. Rarely did a doctor come in to even look at her. Each time we questioned why she was being given certain medications, we were patronized with generic answers and statistics. The most common reply was: “It’s doctor’s orders.” My nephew, a pharmacist, took an entire day off from work to evaluate/review her condition and the medication being given. He requested to speak to the doctor, but waited all day to no avail. My nephew finally had to leave late that night.
The hospice, it was apparent, had no intention of regulating medication just to control her pain. When they started doubling up on medicine to keep her sedated, we finally realized they were intentionally shutting her body down. From the moment our mother entered through the hospice doors, she was sedated. Because of this, we never got to have a final conversation with her. She died six days after being admitted.
Although several friends and family have benefitted from in-home hospice care, it saddens me that it appears this hospice is practicing euthanasia under “doctor’s orders.”
As we sat with our mother for six days, we saw one stretcher after another being wheeled out by the coroner’s office. I would highly recommend careful consideration before agreeing to admit your loved one to a hospice.
Editor’s note: While there are good hospices, the PHA has heard many stories similar to Nancy Strickland’s. We advise anyone considering hospice to do your homework. Our publication Informed: a guide for critical medical decisions provides questions you should ask a hospice agency (page 12). It is essential you interview a hospice prior to signing on for care. Informed can be viewed on our website, or call 651-484-1040 to order your free copy. (A donation is welcome, but not required.)