March 18, 2003
Ms. Pat Sargent - Administrator
6770 102nd Ave. N
Pinellas Park, FL 33782
For the record, on December 13, 2002, we (Terri's family) became aware that Terri was suffering from a Virus/Flu like infection. Typically over the past three years, when Terri required a doctor's attention, we had to literally beg the Hospice nursing staff to have a doctor examine Terri.
This occasion was no different. We expressed our fear to the Hospice nursing staff that Terri would develop pneumonia unless she received a doctor's examination. As you know, our requests were ignored. Out of frustration, we placed phone calls to Dr. Gambone, which the Doctor ignored. Never-the-less, Dr. Gambone did phone in a medication order for Terri.
Although Terri seemed to be rebounding from the Virus/Flu infection, she began to cough, at times violently. We called Terri's persistent coughing to the attention of the nursing staff, however no remedy action steps were taken. The coughing continued throughout the month of January 2003. By February 8, 2003, Terri's coughing increased substantially, accompanied by a heavy mucus buildup. The mucus problem became so severe it required Terri to be regularly suctioned. A byproduct of the suctioning caused a throat irritation, which impeded Terri's swallowing capabilities.
Once again we pleaded with the hospice nursing staff that Terri receive the attention of a doctor. Once again our pleas were unheard. Since there were no indications that Dr. Gambone had visited or would visit Terri, we advised the nursing staff we would initiate a call to Dr. Gambone. Shortly after, the nursing staff advised us that Dr. Gambone called in and was ordering a vapor mist for Terri plus cough medicine. Although the medication offered some relief, Terri's coughing condition still lingered.
On Wednesday February 12, 2003, we visited with you and Ann Saint Marie(?) pleading once again to have Terri examined by a doctor. Later that day, we were told that Hospice's Doctor Moore saw Terri. We were also told, Dr. Moore recommended to continue the vapor mist and cough medicine treatment.
Since December 13, 2002. Terri has been suffering from the lingering effects of the Virus/Flu and it's associated ailments. For the past 3 months Terri has been coughing and audibly is congested, emitting raspy sounds of mucus accumulation.
The degree of coughing and mucus buildup varies. However, the effect of the prolonged cough and mucus accumulation is visually taking it's toll on Terri's physical condition.
As Terri's medical caretaker, we are bewildered how in good conscience, Hospice has not taken steps to remedy Terri's lingering medical condition. As of March 15, 2003 Terri still has a disturbing cough and she has not fully recovered from the Virus/Flu. Even an unskilled medical neophyte can conclude that unless Terri receives immediate Doctor supervised medical attention, she will develop a serious medical problem.
With this consequence in mind, on Monday March 17, 2003, Mary requested that you have Terri receive a chest x-ray, if only to determine that Terri may have contracted pneumonia. Later on Monday, you advised Mary that Michael Schiavo will not give his permission to have Terri tested to determine if she has or is developing pneumonia. Need I tell you, pneumonia is a life threatening medical problem.
In our meeting on February 12, 2003, I expressed our concern that Terri's lack of proper medical attention could and would lead to a fatal illness. I also indicated that while Terri was under Hospice's care, Hospice had a responsibility to have a doctor examine Terri and to treat Terri should she require medical assistance.
Your action of denying Terri a routine chest x-ray to determine if Terri may have contracted pneumonia, speaks volumes. It appears you are being instructed to make critical medical decisions based on instructions from a person who is medically unqualified.
I am confident we mutually share the same esteem for the medical profession and the ethics contained within such a highly regarded vocation. Therefore, Mary and I implore you to provide the routine medical care we are requesting for Terri.
Please place this letter in Terri's file. I am sending a copy of it to Dr. Gambone.
Robert S. Schindler Sr.
(father of disabled, but not terminal: Terri Schiavo)
cc: Mary Labyak - President
Hospice of the Florida Suncoast
300 East Bay Drive
Largo, FL 33770
Dr. Victor Gambone