St Luke’s Reneges: Andrea Clark’s Life Is Still In Jeopardy
I’ve just spoken with Andrea’s sisters, Melanie Childers and Lanore Dixon, today, as well as Andrea’s lawyer, Jerri Ward.
Unfortunately, St. Luke’s has reneged on the deal. Lanore told me that about 20 minutes before Andrea was supposed to be moved to the Illinois facility, St. Luke’s told the family the move was off. It seems that St. Luke’s decided at the last minute that Glenshire Nursing & Rehab Centre in Illinois isn’t equipped to care for Andrea, which is a bit puzzling, since Lanore told me they helped set up the transfer in the first place.
This means that Andrea’s life is still in danger. Jerri tells me that the hospital has only promised, in writing, to not pull the plug on Andrea on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. But, from Tuesday on, they’re reserving the right to pull her life support at any time after giving “reasonable” notice to the family. Is there such a thing as “reasonable” notice that you’re about to end an innocent woman’s life against her wishes and the wishes of her family?
In any case, on Tuesday, the hospital has a meeting scheduled about Andrea and the one sliver of good news is that the family says they have a doctor with privileges at St. Luke’s who is willing to go in and argue that Melanie is not medically futile. Whether that will make a difference is impossible to say at this point.
The bottom line here is that according to Andrea Clark’s family, St. Luke’s has not lived up to their end of the bargain and has only agreed in writing to extend Andrea’s life one day beyond the old deadline of Sunday. That is absolutely outrageous, especially given the way that St. Luke’s bragged about taking care of this issue to the Houston Chronicle, in an article that came out BEFORE the deal was cancelled:
“We are delighted that this issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties,” said Rosemary Luquire, senior vice president and chief quality officer for the St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Care System. Another senior official said the hospital’s position had been about “compassion and the best interests of the patient.”
Now that they think the heat is off because the press has reported that this issue is resolved, they apparently still believe that pulling Andrea’s life support over the objections of Andrea and her family is in the “best interests of the patient.” Folks, in my book, what St. Luke’s is doing to Andrea Clark is now even more appalling and reprehensible than before because they offered false hope to the family and then cruelly yanked it away.
At this point, your phone calls to St. Luke’s (their contact information is here and if you call, BE POLITE) may be the only thing that can save Andrea Clark’s life.
As I learn more details on this case, I will keep you informed.
* I called St. Luke’s media relations people, twice, in an attempt to get their side of the story. I got the answering machine both times and although I left my email and phone number, they did not get in contact with me by the time this post ran.
*** Update #1 ***: From the Houston Chronicle:
“The future medical care of a severely ill heart patient at the center of a life-support controversy is up in the air again after a plan to transfer her from St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital to a facility in Illinois fell apart Friday.
But St. Luke’s officials said that they will not carry out their previous plan to discontinue Andrea Clark’s life-sustaining treatment on Sunday, which will be 10 days after the hospital notified her family it was invoking Texas’ futile-care law.
…The family and St. Luke’s agreed Thursday to transfer Clark to Glenshire Nursing & Rehab Centre, a long-term, acute-care facility in the Chicago suburb of Richton Park. St. Luke’s told the family it would pay the entire cost of moving Clark, estimated at about $15,000, but only if the family decided by Thursday.
The deal was canceled Friday after Glenshire doctors realized Clark’s condition was too complicated for the level of care they provide.
…Hospital officials hope to hold a meeting of Clark’s doctors on Tuesday to reassess her case, Dixon said. Among those present will be Matthew Lenz, a doctor of internal medicine identified by Texas Right to Life as a candidate to take over the case. The group, which is supporting Dixon’s efforts to keep her sister on life support, said Lenz does not necessarily agree the case is futile.
It is unclear what might come of the meeting — a short-term extension of Clark’s life support and care; the scheduling of a new ethics committee meeting at which Lenz would advocate for Clark; or a complete revocation of plans to discontinue Clark’s care.
Jerri Ward, the family’s lawyer, expressed unhappiness that St. Luke’s lawyers will not commit to any specific extension of the notice they already have given regarding plans to discontinue Clark’s life-sustaining care. The state’s futile-care law only requires that 10 days’ notice be given.”
Just got a letter from Andrea Clark’s other sister, Lanore Dixon:
“This afternoon, twenty minutes before Andrea was due to be transported by ambulance to the airport, her doctor (or rather, the one filling in for her doctor who has gone on vacation this week–how VERY convenient!) came into her room and informed me she would not be transferred to the Chicago facility after all. After questioning the doctor I learned that someone messed up–I don’t know which end the foul up occurred, but this all goes to show the danger of being forced to choose a healthcare facility due to pressure of an ethics committee ruling… This so called LTAC was nothing more than a nursing home with dialysis machine in the basement. They had no ability to administer the medications Andrea requires.”
…While we’re grateful that St. Luke’s halted the transfer before Andrea was moved, I cannot tell you the stress this has put on our family. We are exhausted from this effort, but we will continue to fight for our sister.
St. Luke’s has agreed not to pull Andrea’s life support at least until Tuesday. On Tuesday, a committee of doctors from St. Luke’s will meet to discuss how to proceed with Andrea’s case. Andrea’s new doctor–a doctor who shares our values about the sacredness of life–will take over her care on Tuesday and will fight for her right to live. Let us all hope and pray that the committee meeting on Tuesday is chaired by doctors who have a reverence for life and not a former abortionist like the St. Luke’s ethics committee chair.”