Hospice Patients Alliance: Consumer Advocacy







Welcome to SchizAmerica!


by Ron Panzer
April 11, 2005

We're very generous in America. We give blood to the Red Cross; we March for Dimes. We "Telethon" and hope that a cure for juvenile diabetes is found. How many dedicated scientists, physicians and technicians labor day and night, year after year to cure cancer and so many other diseases? How many people have given to these and other causes, demonstrating their real compassion for those less fortunate and suffering.

We rush aid to the injured, with one of the finest systems from start to finish, if it is accessible to the injured. We provide surgery and extensive rehabilitation for months, all aimed at getting the patient to achieve the greatest level of independence possible. It's hard work, and I've been there in the thick of it, having worked three years in the rehab hospital's spinal cord injury unit caring for the newly paralyzed, quadriplegics, paraplegics and brain-injured. I still work with the paralyzed in home care, dealing with every bodily function imaginable, every emotional challenge "feelable," and at the same time, working with mental illness and brain injury that effects the behaviors of the disabled patient.

The psychological, spiritual and emotional dimensions of these challenges are overwhelming, the physical challenges are devastating, but we worked in a team to do the very best we could. I can remember little that was more heart-wrenching than looking into the eyes of the mother of a newly paralyzed child. And I did that many times.

Now, I find little more heart-wrenching than speaking to family members whose loved ones were snuffed out in a health care setting, a hospital, a nursing home or hospice, and who cry out to God, who cry out to everyone they meet, who cry out to me, "they took him away," "they robbed us of those last months, weeks," (or days).

What do I say when confronting the evil that lurks in the shadows of our health care industry? I learned long ago that sometimes there is nothing that can be said or should be said that is going to "solve the problem" or "make everything better" as I would want to do. I just have to lovingly "be there" for anyone, everyone who God sends my way. There is nothing more that can be done, or should be done. And they acknowledge somehow that they don't really expect more, at least from me. Sixteen years of this have taught me that I can only do my best, and then I have to let go of expectations and accept whatever results.

Those of us who work in the field have to care to believe in this field, yet there are many who don't. We come across that type often. Hard, cold, callous. How they possibly can be working in this field boggles the mind, yet they are there. In some nursing facilities the criminal element is well-represented. And administrators that are desperate for anyone to staff their facilities are not eager to weed out the unsuitable: they take who they can get, the patients be damned. Just so long as the facility gets through the day, the staff get through the day, the patients get through the day. And then, every morning, at 7 or 8 a.m., it all begins again: predictable, governed by the physicians' orders, social workers and nurse case managers' plans of "care." Day after day, night after night. Week after week, month after month, year after year, till death ends the repetition.

Whether the patients get a smile or a scowl, "life" goes on, till death goes on, and on, and on. The only way most leave a facility is in a body bag, after suffering a few years of unfathomable pain, pain at abandonment, the pain of loneliness, the pain of what was lost, the pain of knowing there is no way to go back. And so much of that pain could be assuaged, relieved with a loving smile, a caring touch, recognition that "yes," the patient is not just "a patient," but rather, a real, valuable, important human being.

Every nurse with a heart can remember that very elderly patient who was reduced to a mere shadow of what they once were, looking out from a drawn face, with only eyes that can recall the life that once burnt bright, eyes that search yours looking for, begging for just a little crumb from the table of love. And if you dare to take the time to give it, they know. You connect. Forever. Humanity. Brothers. Sisters in spirit. Recognition!

On the other hand, managed care and the HMOs have given us a "new direction!" We are forced to work beyond capacity, like robots rushing through a factory task, with no time to breathe, no time to eat during the one half hour lunch "provided," no time to pee. Don't even think about taking the official two fifteen minute breaks "allowed." If you want to complete the tasks needed to be done, pass all the medications required to be given, provide all the nutrition needed, and dress all the dressings that need changing, you don't stop. Nurse's bladder is not unknown in our circles. And yes, there are some who take those breaks and eat those lunches and take the time they need. Whichever way you decide to work, the "managed care" administrators have it all figured out: nobody ever gets what it was all supposed to be about. They couldn't possibly allow that to happen! They demand ever-increasing amounts of money for themselves. Adequately staffing the facilities would not allow for the multi-million dollar salaries top HMO administrators demand and get each year.

We sometimes (and increasingly) have newly injured patients being declared "brain dead" at the hospital without the appropriate tests ever being completed. We have hospital transplant teams being flown in ready to "harvest" organs from patients who have never been properly diagnosed, whose families are not always informed of all the treatment options, and we have doctors ready to "spin" the patient's condition into a "hopeless" category so the family agrees to "allow the patient's death to have some meaning" through organ donation, even though in cases where the family refuses to accept the "final determination of the all-knowing docs," the patient recovers!

The glaring reality is that when the docs are wrong, dead wrong, the patient is killed by the harvesting of the organs, not because of the injuries sustained. How many inaccurate predictions are made by the doctors who are less eager to provide care and more eager to get healthy organs from the soon-to-be dead, victim of vulture-like organ transplant teams who swoop in and grab whatever they can, selling all the organs and usable body parts for many hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions. The hospitals that get these organs look great, saving the lives of the desperate at the cost of the helpless, who trusted in a system that gave them, not the ultimate service, but the ultimate violation.

There is no more egregious violation of patient rights than to be made dead, without any chance at all to receive care designed to bring about recovery, when recovery is realistically possible.

We operate, rehab and care year after year. We help the spinal cord injured, brain-injured and others make the best recovery that is medically possible. Our pharmaceutical scientists have created new medications that keep diseases at bay, eliminate infections that would have resulted in death years ago, keep chronic conditions stable, and allow many to live who would otherewise have died many years earlier. We have extended the lives of many millions.

So much has been raised for the charities. So many lives who have served the needy have been profoundly touched and made more humane in the effort. Changed forever. How many people have been helped? There really isn't any way of telling any more.

When it is your child, your wife, yourself involved, it makes a difference ... a big difference! It makes just as big a difference for those unnamed patients who may live halfway around the world. They are all part of our human family.

Yes, we're very generous in America. Locals fundraised many thousands in 1992 to get Terri Schindler Schiavo a chance at recovery by sending her out to California for an experimental treatment that did appear to help her at the time. About ten years later our publicly financed courts took every step necessary to make sure she died sooner, rather than later. The same courts made sure that realistic testing of Terri was never done.

While the March of Dimes is working to fund research to cure childhood diseases, doctors may withhold treatment from similarly disabled newborns so that the infants die. Years ago, medicine exerted every effort to prove what medical science could do. Now, while we can save infants born quite prematurely, there are some doctors who wish to euthanize these "preemies" rather than care for them and see to it that they get every chance possible through modern medicine. In Belgium and the Netherlands, the open killing of disabled infants is already occurring.

While the power of medications to stabilize chronically ill patients, especially the elderly, is ever increasing, there are some who believe it is not wise to spend "scarce" health care resources upon the elderly. Treatments and/or surgeries may be denied the elderly, even if they are able to withstand the strain of surgery and even if the treatments would likely be successful.

While the multi-billion dollar biotechnology industry works feverishly to uncover cures for many diseases, it also is working on genetic engineering that might be used to prevent congenital defects to begin with. What is "politely" left unspoken by some in the field is the assumption that those with disabilities or congenital problems would be better off dead, that society should not spend anything on caring for these. Others, like Princeton University's Peter Singer, with no hesitation or shame, gleefully assert their ill-will toward the vulnerable, declaring them "nonpersons" and "unworthy of life:" lives to be thrown to the winds without even much of a second thought.

We talk about women's rights, freedom of choice, and human dignity, but where, oh where are we going to get all the human eggs that will be required for the embryonic stem cell research that some scientists so frantically are demanding? Is it possible that poor women, young women, will be exploited to provide these eggs, undergoing procedures for egg harvesting that may have serious complications? It is certain; it is already happening. But the major media will not report the damages done.

"Women whose eggs are harvested undergo a long, uncomfortable, painful, and potentially dangerous process called ovarian hyperstimulation. Some of the drugs used have never been approved for this use by the FDA. Complications from the procedure include a potential link to ovarian cysts and cancers, severe pelvic pain, rupture of the ovaries, stroke, possible negative effects on future fertility, and even death." - Pia de Solenni, Ph.D., Director of life and women's issues at the Family Research Council in Washington, DC.

So on the one hand, we talk about performing wonders for humanity. On the other hand, that progress will be built on the backs of women, some of whom will suffer "ovarian cysts and cancers, severe pelvic pain, rupture of the ovaries, stroke, possible negative effects on future fertility, and even death."

And what about that taboo topic, "contraception?" "You can't possibly be critical of pharmaceutical contraception!" Yes, it's a multi-billion dollar industry. Yes, it's accepted almost universally. But where are the articles in the major media detailing the severe health risks to the women blindly throwing them down their throats, applying the patches to their skin or getting implanted or injected forms of contraception?

Will the major media describe in detail what a 20 year old stroke patient looks like? Will they? I have cared for such young women at the rehabilitation hospital. I have seen them laying there in the bed, unable to move or talk. They had strokes in their twenties by following the advice of the mass-marketing, slick-talking, multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry. They never thought it would happen to them! But it did.

It always does happen to someone. To those affected, that they are among the mere 1 or 2% predicted to have problems does not matter. They have to live for the rest of their lives with these "problems," serious problems, disabilities, pain, and sometimes death. They no longer care that the pharmaceutical industry assured them it was all "so safe." And if it happens to you, is the pharmaceutical industry going to "care?" Hardly. They say, "the benefits outweigh the risks."

Yet I ask, and those patients ask, ,and the families of those patients ask, "outweigh the risks to whom?" To me? To those I love? "If I had only known I would be the one affected, I would never have taken that risk," they say. But again, how dare I ask these questions! Am I trying to force society and women back into the dark ages before the wonders of contraception were made available to kill off the newly formed babies by preventing implantation in the womb? How incredibly stupid could I be to question the "given" assumption that these medications are "safe!" How incredibly "moralistic" I must be to even think about the unique, never before known, individual human babies who die before they even develop further. How incredibly "backward" I must be to consider that a newly fertilized egg is a unique human being, never seen before in all of history, soon to be snuffed out, never to be allowed to share his or her gifts with the world. All for "convenience." But hey! "Convenience is king!" Most people do not realize that contraception actually is not "contra" "ception." That is the lie. But why bother understanding the science behind it all. Again, "convenience is king!"

And beyond contraception, abortion, assisted suicide, all promoted as being "options" that need to be made available so patients have complete "choice," what about cloning? Anyone who points out the dangers of cloning, or risks to women, is viciously attacked as being "anti-scientific," "regressive," or simply (the "worst" possible criticism) "religious."

We used to give serious consideration to the warnings about "mad scientists" conveyed in such books as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. No longer. "Scientists can do no wrong." "The Biotech industry is going to save humanity." "Physicians are the best judge of who should live and who should die." We have self-appointed "experts" determining national policy on health care. These "bioethicists" are not impartial logicians; they are zealots pushing an anti-life agenda that devalues the worth of each human being using the utilitarian philosophy that gave us the Nazi Holocaust.

We need to remember that scientists and doctors were at the forefront in perpetrating the very worst of atrocities in the death camps of the Third Reich! Why do we assume that doctors and scientists have even one shred more of ethical integrity than the run of the mill "peasants" who keep this nation functioning.

We are a nation at war: war for societal dominance, war for influence over our politicians, war for the direction our nation will go. The mega-biotech industry and secular bioethicists have won almost every battle for the past forty years! If you want to know how big biotech is, consider this: the Biotech Institute tell us "the US biotech industry spent $17.9 billion on research and development in 2003," and "Biotechnology is a $30 billion a year industry." When you consider the lobbying efforts of the biotech industry and the flood of donations to our elected officials seeking to influence their votes, you can understand why biotech is getting its way every time through the government.

What amount is donated to the elected officials by the individual citizens who may be benefited, or who may be harmed by the biotech industry, the chemical industry, the pharmaceutical industry? Almost nothing. And who are the elected officials going to listen to, socialize with, reward? the industries that send their lobbyists to ply their waiting hands with donations.

OpenSecrets.org reveals that many millions of dollars are donated to elected officials each year by the pharmaceutical industries, agricultural and biotech industries, and the money is "well-spent," for many states are bending over backward to create biotech-friendly tax consideration so these industries build facilities in their area. Yet who is setting limits on these industries so that some people are not victimized? When it comes to the safety of pharmaceutical products, the same FDA officials who regulate the industry are often connected financially to that same industry. How could they possibly "bite the hand that feeds them?" That is why we have medications approved for sale that are known, were known, to cause heart attacks, strokes and other severe damages. Vioxx is just one of hundreds of dangerous medications that were "sold" to the public as being "very" safe.

All in the name of "progress." Any sense of Judao-Christian morality has effectively been stripped from the national debate on these issues. Only the self-appointed secular bioethicists and the industry leaders themselves are recognized as "players" in the debate. Only the self-appointed secular bioethicists and corporate spokesmen are given credibility in the media. These self-appointed "leaders" set the rules, debate the initiatives to be pursued nationally, and marginalize anyone who comes from a Judao-Christian perspective. Anyone who dares to mention the sanctity of life or the worth of all human beings is laughed out of town ... and our elected officials, while professing to be "concerned" about the moral issues involved, laugh in their sleeves with them, while pocketing as much as they possibly can get away with!

SchizAmerica. That's where we live: a society at war with itself, a tug of war in epic proportions. While most Americans give lip service to the worth of a human being, many think nothing of killing newly or not so newly conceived babies. Most think little about the killing of the severely disabled, the very elderly, or the chronically ill. Whether these are warehoused in hellholes called nursing homes for a while, no matter! Just so long as they are "out of sight" and "out of mind." "Don't bother us," many think, but don't say. And increasingly, many say and think, "don't bother us!" "don't exist!" "don't cost anything," because "we don't want to care," "we don't want to pay," "we don't want to bother one bit for you."

They won't use words like "killing," no! They use words like "allowing to die," "aid in dying," and justify all of it with the utilitarian view that those with an "inadequate" "quality of life" are not only unworthy of life, and not only "better off dead" but absolutely to be made dead, just like the "supreme reasoning" of the Supreme Courts in the Netherlands and France that have both recognized "wrongful life" as a valid claim by the severely disabled, who obviously, would have been aborted should their disability had been known prior to their birth.

So, which is it? Are we the caring nation? Or are we the killing nation? With almost 50 million abortions in our nation since the Supreme Court wrote law from the bench in its 1973 Roe v Wade decision, with organ harvesting growing every year, with biotech pushing elected officials to approve just about any research approved, where are any limits to what is being done? Is it possible that just about any research imaginable is actually occurring somewhere, some time, to some person? Where is the choice for the baby whose life is snuffed out before or after its first breath of air? Where is the choice for the elderly to be "euthanized" "for their own good?" With (according to the Remmelink Report) 1,000 officially confirmed involuntary euthanasia killings per year in the tiny Netherlands alone, wouldn't we easily have many tens of thousands of such euthanasia deaths each year?

Does our government, which is sworn to uphold the Constitution, guarantee the basic rights of individuals to live? Or does it actually guarantee that some individuals will die? In the Terri Schindler Schiavo case, every branch of government (no matter what charades were paraded before the public) assured her murder!

In theory, the government guarantees the general welfare of all. In practice, its guarantee may be vacated at any time. We don't get an absolute 100,000 mile guarantee. We don't get an absolute 100 year guarantee. At any time, we are just one accident, one illness, one medical malpractice from being discarded, without much of a second thought.

Enter any health care setting and your Constitutional rights will be waived under certain circumstances. If you just happen to be the unfortunate victim of severe medical malpractice, you could be sent off to hospice and declared "terminal," rather than having the docs admit their errors. Who will know the difference?

And with tort reform sweeping over the nation? Who will care if you are harmed? The maximum penalty to be awarded and approved by the courts may be so small (to the huge corporations involved) that, in effect, you or your family will have no legal recourse to prevent, protest or stop future cases. Is this the "guarantee" of the "general welfare" that the founders of our nation contemplated when they designed our Constitution?

We're very generous in America. We give blood to the Red Cross; we March for Dimes. We Telethon and hope for a cure for juvenile diabetes .... We do so much for the needy! God has blessed us because we are so good!

Welcome! Welcome to SchizAmerica!




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