A serious personal illness, or an illness of a close family member, can be a life changing event. The many choices that must be made during these difficult times, may very well determine the outcome. My leaving a career of 20+ years as a hospital administrator, and choosing to become a Champion Home Health Care owner was a direct result of such a life changing event. Please excuse the graphic nature of the below narrative, which is the actual legal deposition given in regards to the events of December 20th, 2000. It is useful in documenting the need for the healthcare consumer to not allow your healthcare decisions to be made by strangers, and certainly not by overworked, and sometimes indifferent hospital medical personnel:
Chronology of Events on December 20th, 2000 (events in proper sequence with times approximated).

8am- spoke to two resident doctors assigned to my mother (one oriental and other?) told them I preferred not to have Cat Scan performed on mother today. Informed them that my mother is highly allergic and I do not want to risk it. Both residents agreed, and said the only reason my mother is being sent for this test is because she has diarrhea and they want to be sure she does not have a colon infection; however the diarrhea is getting better, so they agree we do not have to do the test right now. I leave the hospital at 8:45am for work (no authorization for this test signed).

During the afternoon Dr.- – – – re-orders the cat scan test. My sister is told on the telephone by Dr.- – – – that they will not give our mother any iodine. Mother is kept NPO all afternoon preparing for the test.

6pm- arrive back at hospital. Mother is feeling good. Wants to sit up in chair and have watermelon. Nurse – – – – says she can’t eat until after her test, and it is better to stay in bed since it will be easier for her to be transferred to the stretcher and wheeled down for the test. After the test she can have watermelon if wanted.

6:30pm- Nurse – – – – brings fluid for my mother to drink. She confirms to me that this contains no Iodine. Instructed by Nurse – – – – to give my mother 1 cup every ½ hour until 8pm, then give the final cup right before the test.

6:40pm- Mother starts to drink first cup. After first swallow, mother tells me she tastes Iodine. I read label on bottle which indicated: GASTROGRAFIN-DO NOT ADMINISTER IF ALLERGIC TO IODINE. I stop giving mother drink. Mother Informs me that Dr.- – – – asked her during his rounds today “exactly what happens to you when you are exposed to Iodine?” Mother told him about her allergic attacks.

6:45pm- show Nurses – – – -and – – – – label on bottle indicating: DO NOT ADMINISTER IF ALLERGIC TO IODINE. Both Nurses state “they do not believe that it contains any Iodine. Nurse – – – – says that she will call my mothers doctor to confirm that there is no Iodine in this drink. (Call sister to have her inquire about solution also).

7pm- Nurse- – – – confirms to me that she “spoke to my mothers doctor and there is no Iodine in this drink, the reason why the label has a warning notice is because it is a two part solution and only the injection part has Iodine but the drink alone has no Iodine.”

7:05pm- speak with sister, she was also told, by female internist on mothers’ team and nursing station nurse, that this drink has no Iodine. Nurse- – – – brings Crystal Light Ice Tea mix to camouflage the taste of the liquid so my mother can drink it. Mother is thirsty because NPO all day, and drinks the first cup.

7:30pm- Mother feels nausea, but drinks second cup. Nurse- – – – says that nausea is a common reaction.

7:40pm- Mother starts to spit up drink and vomit (continues to vomit until taken down for test). Nurse- – – – asks that she try to drink a little more.

8pm- Mother drinks third cup. Nurse- – – – says that three cups will be enough since mother was feeling nausea.

8:10pm- Nurse- – – – says we should proceed to have mother taken down for test since she seems anxious and is getting a rapid heart rate.

8:15pm to 8:25pm- Escort brings mother to Cat Scan in basement level. When arrive at Cat Scan I tell the Radiologist (male with blonde hair) that my mother looks like she is having an allergic reaction, she is starting to breathe rapidly. The Radiologist tells me “she can not be having an allergic reaction from what she was given to drink, and must just be nervous.” The Radiologist gives mother oxygen to breathe while she is waiting. I ask the Radiologist to speed up the process so I can bring my mother back to her room to have her examined. The Radiologist tells me “I just have one other patient before her”.

8:35pm- Mother tells me “This is not working” I ask mother what is not working? Mother responds “At least I laughed”. I ask mother what does she mean, and I get no response. I tell the Cat Scan receptionist (elderly black lady) to call for an escort for my mother to take her back to her room, she is not feeling well. Receptionist tells me “I can only call for an escort if the Radiologist tells me to”.

8:45pm- I find Radiologist and tell him that we need to get my mother back to her room since she is having an allergic reaction. The Radiologist still does not think my mother is having an allergic reaction and says “I will take her in now while we call for an escort”.

8:50pm- Radiologists (blonde male and tall black male) won’t let me in room with mother while they are doing the Cat Scan test. While mother is in room with Radiologists, I ask receptionist “Did you call for an escort for my mother?” She refuses, and says “we must wait until after she finishes her test”.

9:10pm- Finish test- Calls for escort.

9:25pm Escort arrives. Radiologists won’t let mother leave with the oxygen tank and state “The oxygen must stay in Cat Scan since that is our oxygen tank”. They disconnect my mother from the oxygen and allow the escort to take my mother back to her unit.

9:30pm- I notice in elevator, mothers breathing is very rapid and shallow. She has also developed a rash on both legs.

9:35pm- We arrive back on unit. I run to nursing station and tell Nurse- – – – that my mother is in distress, bring her back to mothers room, and show her mothers breathing, and rash on legs. Nurse- – – – agrees my mother must be having an allergic reaction, and calls for House Staff Doctors. Nurse- – – – takes mothers pulse and blood pressure and tells me “this is not good”. I go to nursing station to have unit clerk beep my mothers Dr- – – -.

9:45pm- House Staff Doctors arrive (Dr- – – – and oriental Doctor) I tell them my mother needs Benadryl, she is having an allergic reaction to Iodine. They tell me they are not sure she is having an allergic reaction and do not administer Benadryl. They continue to take pulse and blood pressure and hook up mother to a heart monitor. I go to nursing station to page Dr.- – – – again and call sister to have her do the same.

9:55pm- House Staff Doctors agree to administer Benadryl by injection.

10:05pm- House Staff Doctors administer additional Benadryl by Intravenous drip. Mothers’ eyes are starting to dilate. Staff Doctors ask mother her name. Mother responds “Margaret Macaluso”. Staff Doctors ask mother, Do you know where you are? Mother responds “— Medical Center”

10:10pm- House Staff Doctors call for crash cart.

10:15pm- Crash cart team starts arriving. I tell them “My mother is not having a heart attack, she is having an allergic reaction to Iodine”. The crash cart head doctor orders me to leave the room. I go to the Nurses Station to call father to see what mother was given when she had a severe allergic reaction to shell fish during their honeymoon. While at Nurses Station, sister calls to find out status of mother.
Dr.- – – – also calls nurses station. Crash cart head Doctor won’t take Doctor- – – –
call and says “I don’t have time to speak with her doctor” sends first year intern to
“keep her doctor busy”. First year intern tries to walk messages back and forth
from nursing station to crash cart team.

10:25pm- approximately 15 crash cart staff in mothers’ room, hear head Doctor call for a surgical airway. I am standing outside mothers’ room and call in “she has low platelets!” Head Doctor instructs staff to close door to mothers’ room so I can not see in.

10:40pm- Surgeon walks out of mothers’ room. I ask him how is my mother doing? Surgeon responds “I was just responsible for putting in an airway.”

10:45pm- One female team member comes out of mothers’ room to ask me how are you doing? I respond, “I am fine, how is my mother doing?” I do not get an answer.

10:55pm- Hear head Doctor say I will call this code in 5 minutes.

11:00pm- Mothers door opens, hear head Doctor say in a loud voice “What type of cancer did Mrs. Macaluso have anyway?” There was no response, since my mother did not have cancer. As head doctor walks out of room he extends his hand for me to shake. I refuse, and tell him “Go back in that room an revive my mother, it was just an allergic reaction not a heart attack”. He responds, I can’t, she has bled from every orifice”.

11:05pm- I try to enter room and am told wait until we clean her up. I call sister and tell her “It didn’t work.”

11:20pm- Remaining staff leave mothers’ room with canisters of mopped up blood. I enter room, kiss mother on the forehead and tell her “I am so sorry”. I pack up mothers belongings. Kiss her again and say a prayer.

11:45pm- Father is on phone in Nurses Station, wants to know how mother is doing. I tell him we don’t know yet, and will speak with him later. I leave hospital with mothers’ belongings. Pick up car in parking garage and drive to sisters’ house to go with her to inform our father that our mother has died.

It took me five years of researching the high concentration of Iodine in GASTROGRAFIN, writing complaint letters, filing legal actions, and crying, until I was able to start making some life changing decisions to do something I could feel good about. I don’t think too much explanation is needed on why I no longer enjoyed my well paying job as an Associate Executive Director for the New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation, and all that was required to “protect my position and career”.

During the years of enlightenment after my mothers’ death, I realized that my heart was no longer in what I was promoting, and it was time to do something else, and prioritize the important things in life. Most people include on their priority list, close family, good friends, and religion. However, we should not forget to add to this list the self determining ability to make our own health care decisions and choose how we are to write our final chapter in life. Do we want someone else to write this for us, or do we want to write it ourselves and decide where we live it, what treatments we receive, and how we eventually say our good-byes.

In the Home Health Care setting, we are able to maintain the most control over our own care. The least time we must spend in large impersonal error prone institutions, the better.

My particular decision to own and operate a Champion Home Health Care Agency was based on extensive research on the track record and quality of service that Champion agencies provide. The many years of experience of the founders Kim Champion, and Rick Stewart allows for clear policies and procedures to be passed down to each office. Also, my personal dealings with the founders during the license agreement process, has shown them to be honest, trustworthy, and willing to be of help whenever needed.

It is now my desire to utilize the Champion blueprint to serve the residents of Indian River County and St. Lucie County, with superior care, while “Enriching the Lives of Seniors” that are entrusted to us. I look forward to personally assisting with your home health care needs, as we seek to sidestep together the many land mines of institutional care.
Tom Michaels

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