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Conscientious Objector

This is a bucket list of the main concerns that arose from Christy Caldwell’s lengthy stay at Hardin Memorial Hospital in the summer of 2017. She is my mom, and I will be dealing with the ramifications of Hardin’s actions and inaction for the duration of her life. Finding the funding for who will pay the insurance and pharmaceutical industries is the loudest of healthcare hot-button issues, but the money for poisons and gambling against life is only a fraction of the many problems on full display with modern western medicine. A few years ago I was at a birthday dinner, with some 7 or 8 adults seated. Eventually the conversation turned to health concerns, where all those gathered realized that the one person present without a laundry list of health issues by pure coincidence also happened to be the one person not taking any prescription drugs. I’ve never had insurance either. My mom and her family tree have faith in the impossible though, unfortunately, and so I am sharing this narrative in hopes that others will realize the folly of believing the U.S. healthcare industry exists for anything benevolent or beneficial.

1. While she admitted herself specifically due to complications from Cellulitis, there was no mention of Cellulitis in her discharge papers. The papers say the first admission was for a UTI which she was not diagnosed with until after she had been at Hardin for a full week. Nobody contracts a UTI outside of a hospital environment anyway.

2. Her first doctor, on the 4th floor of Tower North, realized there may be issues with her medications, and told us (her children) that she wanted to stop everything and reevaluate all of her meds, to see if any may be reacting badly and conflicting with one another. Which would have been a rational course had it been fully pursued. Halfway through the first week, that doctor went on vacation. We were never permitted to speak with the second doctor, but gather from the nurses the new doctor was not evaluating medications, though we suspect some of her meds could have already been interrupted, with new meds inserted into her regime. We believe at this point her insulin was no longer being administered, which likely contributed to her diminished mental state. And we do know now that Christy was repeatedly given meds or generic versions of meds which are on her record for causing severe allergic reactions, including though probably not limited to Cephalexin. She was knowingly poisoned by the hospital, like a guinea pig or lab rat.

3. After her first 48 hours we could see a difference in her, suddenly prone to sleeping 90% of the day when just days prior she kept a traditional sleep schedule. And when she was awake, she clearly had issues conflating past events of memory with dreams with the current physical setting. Her speech was quickly becoming nonsensical, bordering on “jibber-jabber”. June 29 is the birthday of her eldest daughter, killed in 2000, yet on that day she asked repeatedly why Rebecca had not come up to visit with us. When these concerns were expressed to the deaf ears of the staff, they would insist on seeing her as just another senile old lady, refusing to even remotely consider her capabilities, including the actuality of her handling her own business calls the week before.

4. After a week and a half, she was transferred to Signature Rehab without notifying her next of kin/immediate family. We only learned of her move when going to her floor to visit her at Hardin. At Signature, it was painfully clear she was being left wholly unattended in her bed, with quick and obvious signs of malnutrition and dehydration, as well as laying in her own feces and urine every time we saw her- and we visited every single day. From just before her time at Signature to just after was when she was most out of her head, to the extent of not even recognizing her own family. No two sentences in a row were related, and she had no idea of where she was. Over the course of one 20-minute conversation she thought she was home, she thought she was at her apartment at Nazareth of several years prior, she thought she was staying with her sister in Brandenburg and she thought she was visiting an old friend in Houston. It seemed like full-on schizophrenia. The third day we refused to leave unless she was moved to Flaget Hospital in Bardstown. The on-site nurse practitioner and the EMT crew assured us she would go there but that she had to be “stabilized” at the nearest emergency room, which of course was Hardin. Signature and the EMT unit each had contracts with Hardin which were not divulged to us. We believe she was only moved from Hardin initially because Medicare had run its course, and was readmitted because Medicare could be charged anew. At the ER, the resident doctor, a red-haired man with a Slavic accent who was incredibly rude, informed us that moving a patient from one ER to a different hospital’s ER was actually against the law. A CT was performed finding minor brain atrophy. So she was readmitted to Hardin, but for a urinary tract infection and unrelated yeast infection, as well as the still in effect Cellulitis. Everybody there refused to consider her deteriorating mental state could in anyway be a recent development. Signature had blamed Hardin for her physical state, and voices at Hardin blamed Signature, but nobody saw a problem with her mental condition, presuming senility had been a preexisting condition.

5. In the Tower North once again, she was repeatedly moved from room to room, often while she was unconscious, which only added to her confusion. In one particularly grueling stretch, she was transferred 5 times in a 4-day period, from the 4th floor to 3 different rooms on the 3rd, to 2 on the 5th, and back to the 4th floor. While one move was explained as needed because of maintenance on air canisters in the walls of a particular wing, it was difficult to find anyone who could pinpoint who exactly made the call to move her each time. And of course her family and friends were never notified about any of the moves, before or after the fact. Each new set (and new shift) of aides, techs, orderlies and nurses had to be shown her list of prescribed meds, her list of meds she was allergic to, as well as a rundown of her various ailments (Lymphedema, type 2 Diabetes, congestive heart failure, Dercum’s Disease and giant cell arteritis). It was clear early on that virtually no new doctor could be bothered to read the notes of his or her immediate predecessor, forcing us to become full-time patient advocates ourselves. This was made extra-problematic when our first task upon each visit was learning where she had been moved since we saw her last the day before. Often she would be moved so abruptly that personal items would be left behind in the previous room, which was especially awkward if a new patient had already been moved in there. In one case, her cell phone charger had to be bleached, because the next patient was suffering the sort of ailment where all visitors to the room had to wear face masks and gloves. Multiple pairs of reading glasses and several cards from friends/family were lost.

6. At one point she was transferred in the middle of the night to the 5th floor. Awaking confused and alone, she tried to get out of bed, which scared the nurses enough for them to move her again, this time further down the hall and thus closer to the nurses station. Awaking in the afternoon, again alone and confused by her new surroundings, she figured out how to lower the rails of her bed and spilled to the floor even though she was directly across the hall from said nurses station. She landed badly enough for the staff to perform an immediate X-ray, and while her shoulder had a huge bruise for the next couple of weeks there was no sign of interior damage. We were never officially allowed to see the results of the X-ray. I only saw them a week and a half later after flirting with a nurse.

7. While the staff was supposedly so worried that she might fall out of bed, again, they unironically moved her, again, to the 4th floor, in a room at the end of the hall behind two sets of doors. A place where she could not be so casually checked upon. The nurses of this floor had somehow been led to believe that her fall had occurred a couple weeks earlier while at Signature, rather than just upstairs the day before.

8. At this time was when Christy’s children began pushing for home care, as every time we’d visit the hospital we would be met with some new twist making matters worse. Such as the nurse manager for the 4th floor being oblivious to how Christy had not actually eaten anything in all her weeks at Hardin. That realization came about after a weighing showed Christy had lost 40 lbs since first being admitted. The kitchen workers who came to collect her trays constantly commented on how she wasn’t eating anything, and several nurses observed that she was unable to take a bite from any meal. Yet someone in an authority position to make life and death decisions did not know this kind of important piece of information. A meeting was scheduled in her room of the time, with Dr Ali (who was the doctor in charge of her case that week), the nurse mgr, a couple of nurses and not one or two but three social workers, all crammed in the small room with clear aim of bullying the family away from considering home care. Ali refused to sign off on it, stating that her children would be incapable of maintaining the liquid IV treatments. Yet we learned after the fact that he himself had discontinued those liquid IV treatments 3 days before that meeting. Which also meant, that in her final 8 or 9 days at Hardin, she was not receiving IV treatments of antibiotics, and not really being treated for anything; just stuck in bed so the hospital could collect insurance payments. We were not even permitted to pursue the necessary Power of Attorney, with Ali arguing she was not mentally competent enough to sign for the notary public. When just weeks earlier she had signed herself into their care without question.

9. Conveniently serving as reason to keep her a bit longer, tests were performed showing her to have an infection in her esophagus, and a hernia pressing in to her stomach, both conditions which simply did not exist prior to her month at Hardin. Her final week, her regular neurologist Dr Garcia (who has his own clinic as well as working for Hardin) was able to visit, and realizing the dire and dramatic collapse of her mental state immediately called for an EEG and MRI to be performed. He himself was not supplied with the MRI results until more than 2 months after her discharge. There was dangerously poor communication throughout the entire Hardin ordeal, with doctors always unapproachable to Christy’s family and even to each other. Some doctors seemed to refuse to listen even to their own nursing staff, who spent far more time with Christy.

10. Some of the nurses on the 4th floor sincerely tried to help (Blair, Bianca, and a blond whose name I forget), especially after recognizing this woman who they had treated when she was on their floor several weeks earlier. They wondered why she was not only still in the hospital, but in a condition far far worse than when she was first admitted. In part to placate the family and in part due to the insistence of these nurses, Christy had a nightly “sitter” her final week at Hardin. Some of these glorified candy-stripers were horrible, ignoring Christy to play on their phones, reading magazines or disappearing down the hall or stealing her untouched food. Only two were exceptions, one older woman who was also willing to volunteer to clean and brush Christy’s hair, and the other with reading to her and assisting with the final transfer out, to great physical strain. The few who earnestly tried to help stood out, because the dozens upon dozens of other assorted staff presented themselves either of two ways. Either they were blatantly uninterested in doing anything other than “going through the motions”, or they realized that someone from their company had indeed screwed up in a potentially life-threatening way, and were intent on covering it up, either by losing her in the system or finishing her off. It genuinely felt that way.

11. It took over a week after she was brought home before Hardin actually released their own discharge papers, which forced both her regular nurse practitioner and VNA (the home care service then scheduled) into holding patterns before they could actually begin their own regiments. The packet of roughly 450 papers was completely out of order, so that it took several days to even begin to make any sense of it. And VNA then quit after their second visit, doing so by text message and confessing to having “no idea where to start”. Such was the state Christy was returned home in, outright feral and delirious and to this day with no memory of her month in Hardin’s care.

12. When admitted she could get around on her walker, but when she was released she could not even roll over in bed, much less sit up and certainly incapable of standing. Months later, we are still struggling with her physical and mental health. The family tree has been shocked away by the “night and day” suddenness of the drastic changes. (Not that they needed much excuse to prove themselves entirely fucking useless.) Literally everyone who knew her prior to June 20 of 2017, when she first entered Hardin, knows this and can see this. Hardin Memorial has destroyed her health in too many ways, to such extents that forces inside the hospital had to have been aware, doing whatever possible to shift or avoid blame.

This list represents barely 25% of the calamity experienced at and caused by Hardin Memorial, but we feel it covers the bigger issues. As Christy’s son and round-the-clock caregiver, I do not want money from litigation. I want Hardin Memorial publicly shamed, and I want at least about a dozen persons that I can think of currently employed there to be given walking papers. I want Signature and VNA all to be shut down permanently. I want the board members for all of these institutions to be castrated or to have their tubes tied. And I want for not one person to ever trust any of these businesses or comparable businesses with anything, ever again. But more than anything, I want my mom’s health, happiness and dignity returned to her.