A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a member of our group, Veterans & Americans United for Equality in Medical Care, calling from his New Jersey oncologist office. Dan Hartsgrove had called from the waiting room advising me that no one in his oncologist’s office, even patients in palliative care, were not receiving any pain medication at all. These people were actively receiving chemotherapy and other cancer treatments known to be extremely painful. Not only is the cancer itself painful, but the treatment is as well.
I spent the next two afternoons (about 3 weeks or so ago?) calling a multitude of agencies in New Jersey, including Governor Chris Christie’s office, inquiring as to whether pain relief was allowable for a cancer patient (lung and throat) in palliative care. The question seemed simple enough that I thought Governor Christie’s office would surely know whether it was “permissible” for a doctor to provide pain relief for a palliative care patient.
To my dismay, his staff was clueless as to the term “palliative” care, and refused to transfer me to someone who knew. At the end of it all, I was told by the patient that it had been explained to him (after 2 days of chaos) that palliative care and hospice was now considered the same. He was eventually admitted to the hospital and I had assumed pain control was provided there. But afterwards, Dan and his wife, Carol, were forced to drive 2 hours every 7 days to see a pain management doctor who would count out a scant 7 day supply of pain medication so that Dan could continue his battle.
I spoke to his wife yesterday. His pain meds have, once again, been cut off completely. Dan doesn’t qualify for hospice, because once one enters hospice, there is no further effort to actually save the patient, they are only allowed medication to keep them as comfortable as possible, since the end is now inevitable. No one is immune from cancer. Hopefully it won’t be you or a family member next.
So thinking through, do we think that providing pain relief to someone who is suffering from lung and throat cancer, definitely late stage, would somehow contribute to a heroin epidemic? Is there any reason in the world why a person with these medical conditions would be denied pain control while they’re going through the nightmare of a lifetime?
Common sense HAS GOT to kick in somewhere. Immediate measures MUST be taken. This type of government inflicted suffering and total disregard for humanity is not acceptable.
I recently wrote about another New Jersey couple that I am trying to help. Maybe we could take care of both at the same time.
I am asking Tom Friedan, Andrew Kolodny, Sylvia Burwell, and President Barack Obama whether this situation was the vision of PROPS and what, if anything, they plan to do to remedy the acts of inhumane disregard for quality of life for patients such as Dan. We all know WHY this is happening and you have it within your means to take corrective action. You may reach these four people through me. Contact information provided herein.