Sunday, June 19, 2005

In Memory of Amanda

June 19th 1976 my sister Amanda's Birthday. She passed away at the age of 27 almost 2 years ago.

Even though we were 2000 miles away from each other there was not a day that went by that I didn't think of her. Not a day goes by since her death that I don't realize that there are HORRIBLE problems with our health care system.

Amanda died because of a poor medical system. Amanda leaves 3 children without a mother because the medical system failed her. Doctors failed her, nurses failed her and yes, EMS failed her.

My sister Amanda was mentally ill. She was diagnosed with depression, bi-polar disorder and she was prone to fits of rage as well.

Amanda also had some physical problems. She suffered from seizures as a result of severe beatings she received from a man and she struggled with her weight on a daily basis.

These things could have been easily fixed and my sister Amanda would still be with us today on her 29th birthday if it were not for the fact that she was "POOR" and had no medical insurance except for the welfare system.

A cool autumn day and the leaves were falling, Amanda doesn't feel right so she calls 911 with the complaint of an aura. EMS arrives and provides almost ZERO care. No O2, No IV, No monitor. Transports her in the jump seat to a level 1 trauma center (it's the closest ER). Amanda arrives and tell the triage nurse that she is seeing halos around objects and her head hurts badly. Her BP is elevated as well as her heart rate.

Amanda sits in the triage are for 3 hours and is finally sent to a treatment room. The doctor walks in who barely speaks any English. Amanda tries to tell him what she has told the triage nurse. She is not certain he understand her. The doctor reviews the file and sends her home with some BP meds and a script for toradol. No tests because no insurance! No blood work because no insurance and she is not taken seriously because she has an extensive history of mental illness.

This situation repeats it's self at least 3 times over the period of 9 months and then it gets worse. Amanda starts having seizures and goes to the hospital almost weekly. Basically the same thing happens. She is not dying at the moment so she waits a long time to be seen and then is sent home after minimal or no testing to determine the actual cause of her problems. The mental illness' are reviewed in her chart, maybe some different medications are prescribed and off she goes again. Home to 3 babies with seizures and severe headaches.

About a year goes by and I hear from my sister a couple times. It's always the same thing. I ask her if she has seen a specialist and she tells me she cant afford it and her medical card doesn't cover it. I try to help her as much as I can, but with 4 kids of my own an ex-wife and a new girl-friend my funds are streched pretty thin. I urge her to continue trying to get help and she states that she will try.

I'm sound asleep one morning at 5am and my phone rings. It's my mother informing me that my sister is dead. Shortly after I receive another phone call from Amanda's husband telling me that she did not wake up this morning. I'm stunned, I'm angry, I'm confused! She is only 27 I tell myself. There must be some mistake! No way "MY" sister is dead.

Over the next weeks I place phone call after phone call to the doctors and EMS services. I receive no replies. I finally got through to the ME and demand an autopsy. She stated that there would be one since Amanda was so young. The findings later stated that Amanda had built up scar tissue in her head as a result of her beatings and that is what caused the seizure that ended her life while she slept.

No CT scan was ever done because Amanda was poor and she had a history of mental illness. EVERYONE ASSUMED she was lying! They all assumed she was making it up! Well as it happens they were DEAD wrong.

You see guys, in the good 'ol USA you can be poor and get EXCELLENT medical attention. In the good 'ol USA you can be "Crazy" and get EXCELLENT medical attention. BUT, you can't be poor and crazy. That gets you a one way ticket to the triage room and a quick bounce on your ass out of the ER with little or no treatment.

How many time have you run on a patient with an extensive psyche history that you KNEW were not going to pay the bill? How many times were you cussing under your breath that this was a "bullshit" run. How many times did you joke about it to your co-workers or maybe even made a few off color jokes to the ED staff as you walked a psyche in?

Well my baby sister Amanda is dead. She had 3 beautiful children. And that aint no joke.

Think about her the next time your pissed about having to take a "psyche" or "No Pay". That person is someone's son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father and they deserve the same medical care you would give any sane person. They deserve the same care you would give any one with "High Pay" insurance.


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