Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nursing home workers arrested in fatal druggings

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Another sad story about how people are abused when they are vulnerable. Elder abuse is a growing problem within society. Some people suggest that it has always been part of our society but it is now being uncovered or exposed. I personally think that there is proof that Elder Abuse is on the rise, not only in its instances but also in kind.

Elder abuse directly relates to the level of respect and dignity that society and the culture have for elderly people. Many elderly people become dependent. These people go from a respected place in society to becoming vulnerable and they need to be protected.

Within the context of euthanasia and assisted suicide, I am concerned about the most vulnerable in society which has led to my absolute opposition to legalizing these acts. The facts are clear, will we ever be able to protect the vulnerable elderly from having their lives taken against their consent?

NO - The safeguards in every jurisdiction are illusions at best.

When we consider the vulnerable nature of many of these people and we consider the cultural trend that has led to more elder abuse, I suggest that we reject assisted suicide and promote compassionate care. Care is what our culture should uphold, killing is what we should disdain.

This is the text of the article about an Elder Abuse case:

Story Created: Feb 18, 2009 - Story Updated: Feb 19, 2009

By Staff

Three high-level employees at Kern Valley Hospital District were arrested Wednesday for elder abuse and other charges.

The suspects worked for KVHD's skilled nursing facility in Lake Isabella and are accused of forcibly administering psychotropic drugs for staff convenience rather than the patients' medical needs.

Former director of nursing Gwen Hughes, former pharmacist Debbi Hayes and current staff physician Dr. Hoshang Pormir were arrested following a two-year investigation, according to a news release from California Attorney General Jerry Brown's office.

Eyewitness News broke the story about the investigation last June.

Medical complications, including lethargy and the inability to eat or drink properly, resulted from the forced medications, and three of the facility's residents may have died as a result, according to Brown's office.

Twenty-two patients were given high doses, and one surviving patient was greatly harmed, the investigation determined.

The patients who died were Mae Brinkley, 91; Joseph Shepter, 76; and Alexander Zaiko, 85.

Hughes, starting in 2006, allegedly ordered staff to give high doses of psychotropic medications to Alzheimer's and other dementia patients to make them more tranquil and easier to control. Hughes allegedly ordered the medications be given to patients who argued with her, made noise or were otherwise disruptive.

Brown's office alleges two patients were held down and forcibly given injections.

"We believe these people maliciously violated the trust of their patients by holding them down and forcibly administering psychotropic medications," said AG spokesman Scott Gerber.

KVHD CEO Rick Carter issued a statement in response to the arrests, saying his organization cooperated fully with the investigation and that the skilled nursing facility in Lake Isabella is operating in compliance with state health and safety standards.

All three suspects have been booked into Kern County Jail, and criminal charges have been filed in Kern County Superior Court. Hughes and Hayes were each charged with elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon. Pormir was charged with elder abuse.

Link to the article:

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