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KUDOS KORNER


“Truly there is no resource like HALO out here that I have seen, and I have had to look up a lot of info, especially for my parents care.”
—Contributor from CA

"I liked the mailed newsletter recently received and cut out a few parts to share, and to keep." (Editor's Note: If you did not receive  a copy of our first edition quarterly newsletter, but would like to be added to the mailing list, please send an email to feedback@HALOvoice.org)
—Donor from IL

USE YOUR VOICE


The below articles serve as a simple but powerful reminder to stand up for life and not be silenced.


from the desk of the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR


September 2020
By Anne O'Meara

In 1992, on Father’s Day weekend, my dad died from emphysema. During the two years leading up to his death, Dad had been hospitalized with pneumonia on three occasions. The first two times, he was placed on a ventilator. The third time, he died before he could be placed on a ventilator.

My mom and I were in the room with my dad when he took his last breath. His final moments appeared very peaceful. Nevertheless, I watched my mom struggle with feelings of guilt in the months and years after Dad’s death. She felt she had unintentionally allowed Dad to be euthanized; that she had watched medical professionals give my dad doses of morphine, blindly trusting he was being given appropriate amounts of this powerful drug.

“Don’t let what happened to your dad happen to me.”

I thought that questioning the amount of morphine given to Dad was Mom’s way of dealing with his death. However, in the years after Dad died, Mom spoke to me about euthanasia. She said something I will never forget: “Don’t let what happened to your dad happen to me. End-of-life situations can be complicated. If I am in an end-of-life situation, make sure you err on the side of life. If you are not certain what to do, speak to a priest.” (My mom was a life-long Catholic.)

Fast forward to 2016. My mom was 87. She had heart issues and dementia. Not understanding how challenging it can be to find a truly pro-life hospice, my siblings and I placed Mom in a hospice recommended by a Catholic hospital. After a couple of weeks in hospice, Mom was diagnosed with a bladder infection. The hospice refused to treat the infection as “that is not what hospice is all about.” My siblings and I were horrified. We removed Mom from that hospice and moved her to a second hospice which would treat a bladder infection. Shortly after she was admitted to the second hospice, my siblings and I observed that she seemed unresponsive or almost in a stupor when we visited. Concerned, we demanded to know what medications had been given to her. We found out that, without telling us, the hospice staff had given her dosages of morphine and Ativan to “keep her comfortable.” Upon placing Mom in hospice, we had agreed that these drugs could be given to Mom to alleviate pain. It is notable that my mom had not expressed to anyone that she was experiencing pain. As a result of our discussions with the staff, the hospice promised to notify us before making any medication changes.

A few weeks later, while out-of-state on a business trip, I received the call that no one wants; Mom’s death was imminent. I rushed home to be with her. As I sat at her bedside, I observed the nurses administering pain medication. My siblings and I questioned the dosage because our mother had not shown in any way she was in pain. The nurses responded that Mom was receiving a low dosage of morphine to keep her comfortable. Upon hearing this, sadly, we did not ask about it again. Hours later, my mom died as I was holding her hand.

Use your voice!

Afterwards, we discovered that her “low” dosage of morphine was quite high. In retrospect, I wish I had questioned the specific dosage amounts. If I had even done a simple Google search, I would have been alerted that Mom was receiving a high dosage. Instead, I blindly trusted what I was told. Now, like my mother, I live with feelings of guilt. Even after being forewarned, I had let my mom down.

Recently, I was reminded of my na├»ve handling of Mom’s care when I answered a HALO Helpline call (1-888-221-HALO). The caller was looking for assistance in defending her loved one who was in an end-of-life situation. What struck me about this caller was her passion. She was leaving no stone unturned. She was using her voice to question and challenge the treatment of her loved one. She was not naively accepting everything she was told. This woman, who was using her voice to ensure her loved one received the best care imaginable, inspired me. I cannot help but compare this to my own behavior with my mom. If I could go back and do things differently, I would. Now, I use my voice to share a lesson learned so that YOU will be prepared to protect a loved one from a medically-hastened death.

Learn how you can use your voice to defend the medically vulnerable! Visit www.halovoice.org for information that will help you educate yourself.

HELP HALO GET OUR MESSAGE OUT!

Last week, Craig Johnsen, Chair of the Church of St. Raphael’s Pro-life Committee in Crystal, MN, scanned our recently issued first edition print newsletter and forwarded it via email to a large distribution group! We are grateful for Craig's assistance in expanding HALO's outreach to people with eye-opening, life-affirming educational materials. Also, last month, Georgia Right to Life ordered a large number of HALO publications for distribution to its members. Perhaps you are in a pro-life organization, church group, social club, etc. whose members may be receptive to receiving HALO’s monthly e-newsletters or quarterly print newsletters, or some of our other educational materials. Word of mouth is a great way to spread HALO's message. We deeply appreciate anything you do to help HALO get the word out!

By the way, if you would like to receive the first edition of our quarterly print newsletter, please email 
feedback@HALOvoice.org to request it. Be sure to include your mailing address. We'll have it in the mail to you posthaste (pun intended).

A CAUTIONARY TALE AND CALL TO RAISE OUR VOICES



A CAUTIONARY TALE AND CALL TO RAISE OUR VOICES: Denying family the right to visit sick or dying loved ones is cruel and unjust.

By Kathy M.
September 2020

Dying is a natural part of life. It is not possible to know the exact time or hour when an individual will leave this world and enter the next. For some, signs that they are approaching the “end” are more obvious than for others. Such was the case for Kathy McInnis’s husband. Diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Jay knew his days were numbered. Kathy understood that a person’s dignity stays intact until the very last breath. She desperately wanted to be with her husband during the final chapter of his life; however, the hospital that “cared” for Jay denied them access to each other, citing COVID 19 as the reason. The following story, told in Kathy’s own words, is a cautionary tale that illustrates how extremely important it is to use your voice to care for and protect your medically vulnerable loved ones in every precious moment of their lives.

On April 24, 2020, my husband, Jay, went to Fairview Ridges emergency room with persistent stomach pain. I was not allowed to accompany him. Six hours later, a doctor called on a speaker phone. With Jay in the room, the doctor informed me that my husband of 25 years had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer which had spread to his liver and nearby lymph nodes. He also had four blood clots – one in his stomach, two in his lungs, and one in his leg. He was being admitted to the hospital.

After hearing this devastating news, I begged them to let me be with him. Because of COVID, they said, “No,” even though my husband had been tested for COVID and was negative. I asked them to test me and told them I would wear all protective gear, yet they still refused. Jay was in the hospital for five days without me by his side. After he came home, we met with an oncologist who told us my husband’s condition was incurable. Nevertheless, we decided to try chemo to buy some time. Jay had a port put in on May 8th and his first chemo that day. I was not allowed to be with him for either procedure.

On Sunday, May 10th, he was walking, talking, and able to care for his personal needs but complained of a pain in his stomach. Because of the blood clots, the cancer nurse on call recommended he be readmitted to the hospital. They again tested him for COVID, and he was negative. He was in the hospital until May 15th. During that time, he was declining at a rapid pace. I begged to be with him, but they refused to allow it. They told me he had contracted sepsis. I knew he was dying. In fact, he called me two days after being readmitted, begging me to come to him because he could feel he was dying. He was very distraught. I hung up on him, called the nurses’ station on his floor, and asked them to go to him immediately. I was told that his nurse was busy and would get to him when she could!

I was extremely upset. The only way I could be with my husband was if he would agree to enter home hospice. He made that choice. I don't think he wanted to give up, but he wanted to be with me. He was scheduled to come home May 15th. Hospice set up equipment in my home, including a walker, wheelchair, and bedside urinal. When he came home, I was shocked at his condition. Jay was nearly comatose, unable to communicate, and unable to control his bodily functions, yet they sent him home without a urinary catheter. When he wet the bed, I had to call 911 to come and assist getting him up to change him and the bedding. The paramedics asked me why they did not put in a catheter before sending him home. I had no answer. He was dirty, and I could tell that he had not been washed. His breathing was rattled.  He had blood coming out of his mouth and sores in the back of his throat because he had not been properly treated for thrush.

My brothers came to assist me. They had been with Jay prior to his readmission to the hospital and were also shocked at his rapid decline. The neglect was so obvious it made me sick. The hospital staff had neglected to explain to me the dreadful state my husband was in before sending him home. He died on May 17th at 12 noon. It had been impossible to communicate with him during the day and a half he was home. A couple days after he died, I received a call from the hospital chaplain. I told him how devastated I was that I was not allowed to comfort and care for my husband while he lay dying in the hospital. According to the chaplain, if my husband had been a child and I was his parent, I would have been allowed to be with him. This made no sense to me. I had been my husband’s constant companion for 25 years. What was the difference?

After Jay died, I called the adult abuse hotline at the Minnesota Health Department and filed a formal complaint about the neglect and the hospital’s refusal to let me be by my husband’s side to comfort and advocate for him when he was desperately ill. I was told that, by law, they had to respond formally to my complaint within two weeks. They did not respond. I called a month after filing the complaint to ask about its status The Health Department eventually sent me a letter stating they would not investigate my complaint and advising me to contact patient relations at Fairview Ridges Hospital. I then contacted the hospital and stated my complaint. They told me it would be investigated. The hospital sent me a letter disputing my complaint, claiming my husband was not actively dying when he was released; that he was able to use the restroom on his own. I was stunned by the hospital’s response. My husband was totally unable to do anything when he arrived home. I had to call for assistance just to get him out of the bed.

Reading through Jay’s medical records, I found an entry by the doctor who did his exit evaluation right before he came home. The doctor stated he did not believe my husband would live more than a day or two.  So, yes, he was actively dying while in the hospital. I am angry that I could not be with my husband, and I feel guilty about it, even though I was denied access to him.

By telling what happened to my husband and me, I hope to help prevent this happening to others. There must be allowances for family members to be with their vulnerable loved ones in healthcare facilities, even during a pandemic. I hope others who have experienced this same scenario will step forward and join me in declaring, “Enough is enough!”  No one should have the authority to take away anyone’s right to be with their loved one when they are dying!

USE YOUR VOICE

The below story serves as a reminder of how important it is to be a voice for the voiceless.

In the Fox News article titled “
Janice Dean  Finally Testifies on NY Nursing Home Deaths, Demands Full Investigation with Subpoena Power” Dean is speaking out for residents living in assisted living or care facilities - residents who have been placed in danger due to the governor's decision to combine healthy residents with covid-19 positive patients who have been discharged from hospitals. This is very personal for Dean as in recent weeks both her mother-in-law and father-in-law, who lived in care facilities, passed away from Covid -19.

In an interview with “
Fox & Friends” Dean stated that Governor Cuomo is not willing to provide the exact number of  Covid-19 fatalities in adult care facilities. Dean said “We need those numbers to move forward and help change the laws. We need an independent bipartisan investigation that involves subpoena power so we can get the health commissioner on the hot seat and ask questions and get truthful answers.”

Each of us needs to stand up, protect one another and be an advocate for the voiceless!

RETHINKING NURSING HOMES: SHOULD I TAKE MY LOVED ONE HOME DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC?


Our June newsletter included the article “Rethinking Nursing Homes.” HALO again brings this thought-provoking piece to your attention, and we have added a bonus – the link to a helpful checklist created by consumervoice.org titled “Should I take my loved one home during the Covid-19 crisis?”

Reading the nursing home abuse stories in local newspapers or hearing about the extraordinarily high number of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes across the country, one wonders if nursing homes are the solution they once were thought to be. If you have a loved one in a long-term care facility or are considering this care option, we urge you to please read (or re-read) "
Rethinking nursing homes. Supporting community based care" by Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

“SNIFF TEST” USED TO PREDICT RECOVERY OF UNRESPONSIVE PATIENTS

September 2020
"Surprising New Test for Predicting Recovery after Coma" was published August 25, 2020 by Nancy Valko on her blog. While the study referenced in this article is small and should be expanded, the results are stunning. They suggest that a sniff test should become a standard part of medical evaluations done on patients with severe brain injuries. Maybe “hopeless” cases aren’t so hopeless after all.

HALO ON THE MOVE

Last week, Jo Tolck, HALO Board member, and Anne O’Meara, HALO Executive Director, traveled to Fargo, ND to attend the 2020 Lutherans for Life Regional Conference. The theme was “From Invisible to Indispensable” (1 Corinthians 12:22). Great speakers addressed a range of profoundly important topics. This event was a wonderful opportunity to network and spread HALO's message! If you are aware of an upcoming pro-life conference in your area, HALO will be happy to attend and/or provide materials! Simply send an email to feedback@HALOvoice.org.
Executive Director of HALO,
Anne O'Meara at HALO's Booth.
Regional Director of MN & National Conference Director, Virginia J. Flo.

HALO Recommends





Breakthrough (A boy drowned and came back to life. – Added September 2020

The Movie “Breakthrough,” produced in 2019, depicts the true story of a 14-year old boy, John Smith, who fell through the ice on Lake Louise in St. Charles, MO in 2015. He was under water for 15 minutes before being rescued and rushed to a hospital. Though the doctors worked tirelessly to revive John, they eventually had no choice but to declare him dead. John’s mother, Joyce, was called into the room to say goodbye to his lifeless body. There were no signs of life, but Joyce didn’t give up. She begged God to bring back her son. John remained in this lifeless state for 45–55 minutes. Suddenly, miraculously, John’s heart started beating again. Everyone was elated beyond words with this unexpected sign; however, it did not mean he was “out of the woods” or that recovery was assured.

John was transferred to Cardinal Glennon Hospital where he remained in a coma with life support under the care of a pediatric critical care physician, Dr Jerome Garrett, who is also a world-renowned hypothermia and drowning expert. Dr. Garrett gave little hope for John’s survival and warned the parents that, if he did live, he would be severely neurologically impaired and would never again have normalcy in his life. When the parents were at the point of giving up all hope, it was decided to remove the ventilator to see if John’s organs could support life. A second miracle took place! John opened his eyes, recognized his mother, and said, “MOM.”

Sixteen days after the accident, John walked out of the hospital without any physical or neurological impairment. Now, five years later, John is studying for the ministry at a midwestern Christian college. He continues to share his experience “as an example of faith in God’s amazing power.”

Reviewed by Marlene Reid
Image: 20th Century Fox

ATTENTION READERS


If you are in a position to help HALO financially—and ONLY if you are positioned to do so—your generous donation at this time is crucially important. Anything you can do is greatly appreciated.

Donations are tax-deductible to the extent the law allows.

Please send checks only to: HALO, 7301 Bass Lake Rd, Minneapolis, MN 55428.
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HALO MISSION STATEMENT


The mission of the Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization is to promote, protect, and advocate for the rights of the medically vulnerable through direct patient and family interactions; through community education and awareness programs; and through promotion and development of concrete *"life-affirming healthcare"* alternatives for those facing the grave consequences of healthcare rationing and unethical practices, especially those at risk of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
*"Life-affirming healthcare" is defined as medical care in which the paramount principle is the sanctity of life, which means that the life and safety of each person come first and each person receives medical care across their lifespan based on their need for care and never with an intention to hasten death, regardless of their abilities or perceived "quality of life."


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