Archive for Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Letter to the editor

Nursing home concerns

September 29, 2004

Nursing home concerns

To the editor:

Kansas state officials confirmed reports that a resident in Brandon Woods nursing home in Lawrence had gone three weeks without receiving a doctor-ordered therapy intended to reduce swelling in the resident's legs. According to the inspectors' report, the delay caused the resident "extreme pain." The resident's doctor said her patient was "just lucky" the lack of therapy hadn't resulted in amputation or death.

When I read about tragic situations such as this one, I wish for writers long dead who would address the failure of care that occurs day in and day out in far too many nursing homes. Yet, virtually no one in a position to improve conditions in nursing homes cares.

Aldous Huxley would look with horror on this brave new world where medical technology enables us to live longer, but where old people often find themselves in nursing homes where life becomes a travesty because owners value the good life for themselves more than they value helpless old people entrusted to their care.

Bram Stoker would have a field day writing about this modern Transylvania where vampires wear three-piece suits and the Un-Dead wait to die.

Charles Dickens would look to the old rather than to the young to consider with horror what man has done to man.

T.S. Eliot would write about this wasteland of the spirit where hope dissolves into despair and the bright light of youth fades into Thoreau's days of quiet desperation.

Shakespeare would put his haunting words "O! that this too solid flesh would melt; thaw and resolve itself into a dew" into the mouth not of a young prince but of an old man.

Rachel would weep for her parents, not for her children.

But those voices are not heard, only the voice of an Indiana advocate for nursing home reform who wrote to government officials "For God's sake, help us!"

Jean Price,

Clarksville, Tenn.

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