LIFE "CARE" OF CLEVELAND KILLED MY HUSBAND
LIFE CARE OF CLEVELAND KILLED MY HUSBAND
Maybe those are strong words, but in reality that is exactly what happened. They neglected his physical problems and even sabotaged me when I tried to get him seen by a doctor. It was as if they didn't want him to get any help.
How can you cope with checking your husband of almost 45 years into a local healthcare facility for some minor physical therapy and 46 days later he is dead? Just writing this feels unreal and hard to believe, but that is exactly what happened to my precious husband in 2014.
It has taken me 2 and 1/2 years to even think about writing this story, but for my own healing and sanity, I felt it was time. It seems when bad things have happened to me, I have trouble dealing with them and try to deny they happened, but when they are written down, then I can come to grips with the reality. As many of you are aware, it took me 10 years to write the story of my bout with cancer, so maybe I won't wait that long this time. Every time I tell this story, I relive it again and again. Then it takes me days to get it off my mind. Let's just pray I can finally tell it once and for all and get it off my mind finally.
My husband, Jay had been suffering with painful feet for several months. We had gone to every type of doctor we could think of an arthritis specialist, a urologist, a podiatrist, etc. and each one had a different diagnosis. We were told it was gout or arthritis, etc. and one doctor even said it was cosmetic. No one seemed to be able to diagnose the problem and kept trying this or that from shots, gout meds, drinking cherry juice to wearing support hose. Nothing seemed to give him relief.
Jay had ingrown toenails and would have a podiatrist clip his toenails. Every time they were clipped, Jay would suffer unmercifully with pain where his toenails were clipped too short. I tried to get him to try another doctor, but he insisted on going back to this particular doctor because he was a good Christian doctor and he liked him.
I talked Jay into going to see my primary care doctor because he was a very thorough doctor and I wanted to see if he could diagnose the problem. This was the first doctor who put Jay's foot close enough to his face so he could see it. He took some swabs between Jay's toes and toenails and said, "this looks like infection." He started him on antibiotics for the infection.
Jay had an appointment with his Nephrologist. He took one look at the infected feet and said it looked like there was a vascular problem. He referred Jay to a vascular surgeon and it was determined he had three clogged arteries to his feet. Surgery was performed to unclog the veins. He was only able to unclog one of the arteries, but we were able to hear the blood flowing through his artery and everything seemed fine.
So you can understand how unreal this story is, here is a picture of Jay four months prior to his death:
This is the end of June, 2014. Jay is the smiling and happy Tennessee Vol fan here with his living siblings.
I can only write a little at a time, because I am trying to do so without getting angry, but it is difficult to do. Let me say here as well, I will be posting some pretty graphic pictures. I debated about doing that, but for you to understand the impact of all this, it may be necessary to see it for yourself. If the photos are too gruesome for you to see, then just skim past them.
August 25, 2014, Jay had surgery on the arteries in his right leg and they kept him overnight. The next day his foot was still just as sore as it had been before the surgery and now he was weak and lacked bladder control. His foot began to swell and became red. He was so weak we thought he was going to pass out several times. Two days later we returned to Erlanger's ER. They started giving him antibiotics for the infection in his feet. He was there in the ER for 11 hours. He was cold and kept asking for a blanket which never came. They lost his shoes for a while. He was just miserable. They finally got him a room after 11 hours of misery.
The next day when a physical therapist came in to do a routine check, Jay could hardly lift his LEFT leg off the bed, but could lift his RIGHT leg (with the sore foot) just fine. They decided to send him to Life Care rehab for a week or two. They had tried him just walking a bit while in the hospital, but his shoes filled with fluids.
They transported Jay to Life Care Rehab on Wednesday, September 3, 2014. THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF OUR LIVES BECAUSE THEIR NAME MAY SAY "CARE" BUT THEY DO NOT CARE. Now I am going to start showing you some of the pictures of his foot. If you don't wish to see them, then look away. Here is what his foot looked like when he entered the Life Care Rehab center:
We chose Life Care Centers of Cleveland for Jay's rehab because we had heard they were the best. However, we didn't find that to be the case for Jay. He was here for physical therapy on his good leg. There were many issues he was dealing with besides the minor fact that he couldn't lift his good leg off the bed. However, those other issues were ignored.
I offered them the list of all the appointments with the specialists dealing with Jay's issues. Right away Nurse Krystal started marking off the appointments one by one. "We won't be taking him here. We won't go to this appointment." Even his primary care doctor appointment was denied. When I asked why this was happening, I was told that Life "Care" would be his primary doctor while he was in their care. At the time I felt like they were the medical experts, so they know what is best. NOT!
On September 16th, they did transport him to Dr. Horn's office for follow-up from surgery. He didn't like the way Jay's foot was inflamed and he would have Dr. Schulman's office call with an appointment. When I told Nurse Krystal that he was to see Dr. Schulman, she informed me that Dr. Schulman would see him at Life Care, so it would not be necessary to go to his office. She also said Dr. Schulman was just a podiatrist and doesn't even do wound care. (I looked up Dr. Schulman on the internet and he is a wound care specialist, so someone lied to me.) Nurse Krystal also informed me that Life Care has their own wound care specialist. Once again I deferred to their "expert medical experience" on what was best for Jay. NEVER AGAIN!
Life Care had been keeping Jay's foot open to the air to heal. He had developed a blister on top of his foot which I assumed was from the Congestive Heart Failure. By the way, they were continuing to make him walk on this sore foot, and now every time he would return from therapy, his socks would be soaked with fluids and his feet would be sloshing in water collected in his shoes.
A day or so later, I walked into the room and Nurse Scott was scraping Jay's foot and cleaning off dead skin. He took some scissors he had in his pocket and cut off the skin that was covering the blister on top of Jay's foot. I was unable to see his wound after this, because they started covering it with dressing.
September 30th, I walked into his room to be sure they were getting him ready to go to Dr. Horn's office for another follow-up visit. They had the curtains pulled so I walked around the curtain and said, "what is going on?" Two nurses were dressing Jay's wound and seemed upset that I was there and seeing his foot. They asked, "who are you?" Jay in his jokester way said, "she's just the woman I live with."
Let me clarify the "care" Jay was given at Life "Care." To clear up the small infection in Jay's foot, he was put on antibiotics. However, the medication was suppose to be given to him with food. They would bring in his medication an hour or sometimes two hours before his meal. He would complain that it upset his stomach if he took it on an empty stomach. The next day they would do the same thing again....bring the medication and insist he take it and then an hour or more later bring food.
This went on for several days. Jay ended up having to be taken to Erlanger Hospital because of blood in his bowels which was caused by taking the antibiotics on an empty stomach. After that, he began to hide his medication in a drawer until they brought his food. Now they classified him as being uncooperative, obstinate and a big problem to them because they found his medication in the drawer.
Add to that the fact that he complained every time they did physical therapy that it was too painful for him to do and he felt as if he was walking on water (which of course he was because of the congestive heart failure.) Now he was classified as a difficult patient.
Then one morning they classified him as being a lunatic. Jay could never tolerate air blowing down on his bald head. He wore a toboggan winter, spring, summer and fall. I had taken his toboggan home to wash it. He called me to ask if it was finished because he needed it. I told him it was in the dryer and I would bring it when I came up. I also suggested he find something to put over his head until I can get it to him. When the nurse came in and saw him with a pair of underwear on his head, she immediately reported that he was a lunatic.
Now about Nurse Krystal at Life Care. When we had a meeting about Jay and his care at their facility, I handed her the list of Jay's doctor appointments. She immediately started marking off the appointments. "We won't be taking him here or here or here." When I asked why she said they had their own doctor who would be taking care of his medical needs. NOT!
When I told her Jay had an appointment once again with Dr. Schulman, she said the same thing: "Dr. Schulman will see him here. We won't be taking him to that appointment." I said, "No, Dr. Schulman is to see him in his office on Monday, October 6th and you will take him to that appointment." Once again she mentioned their wound care specialist. I asked to be called when the wound specialist came in that I wanted to talk to her. (She still had not been to check on Jay at this time.)
Saturday, October 4th, I got a call that the wound care specialist was coming to see Jay. Jeremy and I rushed over there to meet with her. This is how Jay's foot looked when she pulled off the dressing:
Monday, October 6th, 2014 Jay was finally able to see someone about his foot. He was at Life "Care" from September 4th, 2014 and now over a month later a doctor is finally going to see about his foot. This is not acceptable. Someone should have been taking care of his foot from day one upon entering Life "Care" but that didn't happen. We had an appointment with Dr. Schulman for 9:00 and once again Life "Care" tried to sabotage the appointment.
Jay informed them he needed to get a shower and get ready for his doctor appointment. He was told he didn't have an appointment. I was planning to meet him at the doctor's office. When he called and told me they said he didn't have an appointment, I was livid. I insisted he put a nurse on the phone.
"He has an appointment in Dr. Schulman's office this morning at 9:00 and you had better get him there!" I screamed into the phone. "I'll check on it," she said.
I was still upset when they finally rolled in and unloaded Jay from the van. Will this ordeal ever be over? I thought to myself. How can a health facility with the word "care" in their name deny a person medical help?
Dr. Schulman took one look at Jay's foot and exclaimed over and over, "this is bad, this is bad" He was very upset this had been allowed to go so far. I think if he had a scalpel handy he would have started cutting on the foot right then and there. The doctor wanted to do surgery ASAP but wasn't able to schedule the OR until Tuesday around 6:00 pm. He took the top of Jay's foot off from the toes to the ankle all the way down to the tendons.
Dr. Schulman said the only way to save his life was to remove his leg at the knee and even then there would be no guarantee it would get all the infection. He still wanted to schedule surgery for Monday morning, October 20th.
On Saturday, we had a meeting with the Hospitalist. He discussed all the options. He even got the surgeon on his personal cell phone and handed the phone to Jeremy to talk with the surgeon. We were at the point we could either go for surgery and take our chances, or call in Hospice.
How can you let someone you've loved for over 44 years just go and not try and do everything in your power to save them? It was not an easy decision. Jeremy finally asked the Hospitalist, "if this were your father, what would you do?" He said, "I would let him go in peace by putting him with Hospice. The odds are stacked against him even being able to survive another surgery."
Sunday, October 19, 2014 we met with Hospice. It took most of the day and it was very late in the day when he was finally transferred to Hospice in Chattanooga. They gave him a large room all to himself and enough morphine so that finally he was out of pain. We felt he would be here for a few weeks and then we can bring him home for his final days. But this was not to be.
Monday, October 20, 2014 Jay was sleeping peacefully for the first time in a very long time. Jeremy shaved him and we were both feeling at peace about the whole situation. Our pastor to the seniors and his wife (Wendell and Oneta Smith) came for a good visit and everyone was feeling at rest. It was 2:00 pm and Jeremy and I had not eaten lunch yet, so we decided to go to lunch. While Jeremy was in the restroom, I went over to Jay's bedside and told him what we were going to do, "We are going to eat lunch now, but I will be back soon. You are doing what you love to do....sleeping.....and I will see you soon."
We were planning to eat and then return to Cleveland for Jeremy to get his things and return home for work. That is how relaxed we felt about Jay finally having someone who would take care of him and we could get some much-needed rest.
We were half-way through our meal when Hospice called. She said, "we don't like to do this over the phone, but we didn't want you to drive all the way back to Cleveland or Acworth, GA (in Jeremy's case) and then have to return. Two nurses went in to turn Jay after you left, but he was already gone." He was with Hospice less than 24 hours, but it was the most peaceful he had been in a long time.
It will soon be 3 years since this and I still feel it as deeply as if it just happened. Now what would I do differently if I had it to do over? The foremost thing in my mind would be to never have put him at Life "Care" of Cleveland. The only reason he was sent there was because he couldn't lift his good leg off the bed. He was able to use it for everything else. He could walk, dress himself, and do some light exercise. He would be alive today in my estimation if we had never had rehab at Life "Care." He would have been able to keep up his doctor appointments because we would have gotten him there. He would have been able to continue his antibiotics because we would have made sure he had them with food so they didn't upset his stomach. His infection in his toes would have cleared up. Yes, I truly believe he would still be alive today had Life "Care"
not neglected getting him medical help. They allowed him to die which in reality they killed him for sure and certain. That's my final answer and I am sticking to it.
Now you may think this was an isolated case of neglect, but since telling my story, I have heard story after story of people who would have died had they remained at Life "Care". There is story after story of neglect and an uncaring attitude. They are a big institution and have the money to keep several lawyers on retainers because of the many times they have been sued. Their lawyers are slick and know all the tricks for getting these charges dropped.
My advice to anyone considering a health care facility.....DO NOT USE LIFE "CARE" OF CLEVELAND because they do not care and should remove that from their name. Their rules are more important than the people they are suppose to be "caring" for.