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Can Hospice Become a Death Chamber?

As a member of the board of Pro-Life Healthcare Alliance, I have come to know many experts who provide helpful advice and care for those confronting the reality of death—either themselves or for a loved one.

I have also learned a great deal from Ione Whitlock’s blog, Belbury Review. In fact, it is there that I found this statement which everyone should read and contemplate: “The promise of hospice palliative care was that it would provide comfort to the dying, ease symptoms, and help grieving loved ones. . . . That was the theory. The reality is that for some reason, it doesn’t seem to be working that way.”

And that, my friends is an understatement. But lest you think this is just another clinically accurate, multi-footnoted article containing dry facts, let me make this real for you.

I recently received a letter from a longtime American Life League supporter named Esther. Usually such letters are answered, calls are made, and the file is closed. But this letter moved many of us at ALL to the point of tears, and I wanted to share it with you. Her story is anything but the exception to the rule.

Esther explained that her husband, John, had a stroke and a heart attack 12 years ago. After his recovery he went to work at a golf course. Years went by; each day Esther took good care of him, even when he had to stop working and required a great deal of care from her. During all that time her husband never took a drug, not even a baby aspirin.

Then, in October of 2012, John’s doctor told Esther that she needed a break and that she should put her husband into respite care for a while. That’s when her troubles began.

She stated that the hospice nurse had promised her that John would not get any drugs. And she says, “Like a fool I believed them.”

She continued, “I let them take him to Faith Hospice. In about 37 hours he was tortured-drugged and given a shot of Robinul at 4:10 a.m. on November 22. At 4:30 the nurse came back in and asked, “Is he gone now?”

Esther’s letter continued,

Yes! He was dead. After the shot, fluid and chunks of something came out of his mouth so fast my daughter could hardly control it. She had to catch it in the sheet and coverlet.

For no reason they tried a catheter on him. They had no permission for anything they did. He must have screamed!

Esther told us that when her husband arrived at hospice for that fateful stay on November 20, the pastor and the pastor’s wife visited. She fed her husband cereal and everything seemed fine. When she returned on November 21 everything had changed.

She wrote, “I cried when I went back November 21. His eyes were cracked, rolling around, he couldn’t talk, move or anything. A ZOMBIE!”

Esther told us hospice loaded her husband with drugs: “The nurse also reported in her notes she gave him several doses of morphine (plus the ones she recorded). The doctor said to me, ‘You give him permission to die when you bring him to Faith Hospice.’ . . . Lies – Lies – Lies!”

When Esther admitted her husband, she did not think—nor did anyone explain to her—that the respite care that was supposed to give her a break from caring for her husband was actually her agreement that her husband should die while in the hospice.

Esther’s letter does not represent a unique experience. It is sad indeed to realize that hospice care today can be all about hastening death when those in charge decide it is time for a patient to die.

Don’t let this happen to you or a loved one. The articles below will educate you about proper hospice care, and they will help you choose a hospice that does not use palliative care as a murder weapon:

The Nursing Home and Hospice Checklist

Covenant Hospice: Pro-Life to the End of Life

Five Things You Should Know about Palliative Care

It is important to be informed and educated about any type of care you or a loved one may receive. Never hesitate to ask questions or tell doctors what you want. Your life literally depends on it.