A nursing assistant wheels Margie Whitson back to her room at Golden Oaks Rehabilitation Center a Show more A nursing assistant wheels Margie Whitson back to her room at Golden Oaks Rehabilitation Center and helps her back into bed.
A nursing assistant wheels Margie Whitson back to her room at Golden Oaks Rehabilitation Center a Show more A nursing assistant wheels Margie Whitson back to her room at Golden Oaks Rehabilitation Center and helps her back into bed. Golden Oaks is located on the grounds of Marion General Hospital owned and operated by the hospital board of directors. It has been a very difficult day. Margie takes a deep sigh as she leans back into bed and says Ill get into night clothes in a few minutes if thats alright. Id just like to sit here and think for a little while. The nursing assistant nods in agreement Margie has just attended the funeral of her son William who died this week after several years of poor life quality in the same nursing facility. Williams first stroke happened 3 years prior; two more strokes followed and he lingered in poor health at the center over the intervening time. Margie is now 95 years of age and William was 73 when he passed this week. The last 5 years have simply been devastating for Margie. First her husband Earl passed on at the age of 88. They had been married for 68 years most of them wonderful and successful years together until the medical problems began. They had one other son Jacob who died in a motor vehicle accident in his 30s. As Margie sits in the quiet of her nursing home room she faces the reality that she is utterly and completely alone in the world. She and Earl had hoped for grandchildren but that never happened and Margies family is simply all gone now. Margies own health is poor. A hip fracture 10 years ago slowed her down significantly and a heart attack 2 years ago nearly took her life. But she survived due to good emergency medical care and quick placement of an electronic pacemaker. Margies heart rhythm is now 100% paced meaning that her heart will not function effectively without the pacemaker; she is completely dependent on the pacemaker for her survival. Margie is a woman of great personal faith raised that way and she raised her sons that way. She believes strongly that Earl William and Jacob are waiting for her in heaven. And as she sits alone in her nursing home room the realization comes to herthe only thing keeping her from joining her family in heaven is this pacemaker. And the pacemaker is nothing more than an electrical device. It was turned on to save her life 2 years ago and now it can be turned off. She should have the right to turn it off! Margie presses the nurse call button and says I need to see that lady whos in charge of this place and right now please. When Nursing Home Administrator Cindy Mackin enters the room and listens to Margie she can hardly believe what she is hearing. Im telling you I just want you to turn it off. Ive had enough; there is nothing left for me here on earth and I just need to go now and be with my family. Cindy responds Now Margie youve had a terrible time lately and naturally you are grieving the loss of your son right now. Things will look better tomorrow. But Margie does not think so. She says Call Dr. Vijay for me; he turned this thing on and he can turn it off. I insist. Cindy realizes that Margie does have a right to discuss this or any other matter with her doctor and she arranges a visit for the following week. At the cardiology clinic Margie is increasingly insistent about her demand to deactivate the pacemaker. Dr. Vijay comments Margie Ive practiced cardiology for nearly 20 years now and frankly I have never had this request. The pacemaker is keeping you alive and that is of course what we do in medicinewe save lives. I do not feel that I can ethically deactivate your pacemaker. I know that you have had some very difficult experiences lately and perhaps you will feel differently with a little time passing. Returning to Golden Oaks Margie is absolutely fuming and now she is determined. The same determination that carried her through life and made her such a great wife and mother is now rising in her to make her own decision about how and when to end her own life. She asks to see the Golden Oaks social worker and Jane Robison MSW is summoned. After more than an hour of discussion and exploration of every option that Jane can imagine Margie persists in her request. Well Margie we do actually have a process to help in difficult situations like this when patients families and doctors disagree through the hospital ethics committee and I think that we should take your case there for review. I happen to know that the ethics committee meets next Friday and the chairman is a colleague of mine who is our director of social services. Show less
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