“Dying With Dignity” (Emma Wright – June 3, 2009) was the title of WENY-TV’s report on the Gary & Sara Harvey story.
This was a story (not fully reported) that has the government, business, staff, lawyers, judges and the so-called ethics committee intruding upon personal family and health care matters; not only intruding, but making life and death decisions for Gary, while apparently excluding Sara Harvey to the point of telling her (to her face) that the decision of the (so-called) ethics committee would be reported to the establishment’s attorney, who would then relay it to her attorney, so if she wanted to know anything, she would have to ask him.
The Ethic’s Committee Consult reportedly held behind closed doors on May 29, 2009 is neither the beginning nor the end of the story at hand. It is merely the latest insult in a long line of events that go back nearly three and one half years. Events that challenge and define and assures us that our lives can change in a spilt second no matter what we might have thought a moment before the devastation devours all the hopes and dreams once held dear.
On or about January 21, 2006, Gary Harvey, 55, had a heart attack, fell down the basement stairs and hit his head. As a result, according to his wife, Sara, he suffered severe brain damage and is profoundly disabled. Thus the chapters begin.
Gary was initially transferred to McAuley Manor in Hornell, New York. It was there that Sara said she assisted in his personal care, therapies, care related to his feeding tube and trach, as well as being educated on danger signs to be vigilant of with regard to the latter. She reports that there was no problem with either Gary’s feeding tube or trach during his stay at this care facility.
On or about May 17, 2006, Gary was transferred to Chemung County Nursing Facility (CCNF) and the chapter of unsuspected horrors was soon to be added to the Harveys’ book of life’s challenges. It is the chapter Sara apparently didn’t see coming. Had she, perhaps she would have handled situations differently and avoided annoying those in power. But then, it is easy to second guess when one is privy to the outcome and aware of what led up to it.
There appears to have been a situation where Gary was pulling on something called a “fish line” which has to do with his trachea. A tracheal tube has two air lines. One inflates the cuff and the other one monitors the cuff pressure. The purpose of inflating and sealing is to hopefully prevent the potential of aspiration
According to Sara, the line was defective and not performing its intended function. Though she made repeated attempts to get the staff to take corrective measures, they failed to do so. In desperation, and with medical staff seeming to make no effort to dissuade her, she cut the defective “fish line” to motivate them to fix it. It worked. It also exacted a price she hadn’t counted on.
Though Sara’s actions apparently didn’t put her husband in immediate harm or cause him distress, and did actually get staff to finally correct the problem that could have placed him in harm if not corrected, because of her actions she found herself regarded as a danger to her husband.
She was to find herself restricted to supervised visits. Restricted to when she could visit her husband. Restricted to what room she could visit her husband in. Restricted from readily receiving information on the day-to-day care and events concerning her husband. Restricted from making decisions regarding his care. Restricted from having a say in the life and death matters that apparently are at hand.
Sara Harvey, who longs to bring her husband home to care for him, finds herself in an unspeakable position. A position that most would assume would and will never apply to them. Sara Harvey never thought it would apply to her either.
Gary Harvey has a government guardian, who never knew him prior to appointment. How would that government guardian know what Gary might have wanted or not wanted for himself? Does that guardian visit him, caress his arm and gently brush his brow, while softly talking of all the wondrous memories once shared? Does that guardian speak of hope and encourage him to be better and feel better and to look forward to the next moment and even the next day?
The government, business, staff, lawyers, judges and the so-called ethics committee are worried about Gary’s care? They fear that Sara will somehow harm or kill her husband if left alone with him? How ironic. How totally ironic, since it was they — not she — who sat in a meeting on May 29, 2009 and decided that Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)–feeding tube–be withdrawn, he be made comfortable and no further interventions to be done.
A second opinion was fought for and has been granted. There is a brief reprieve. Will it be enough to make a difference, or is it merely a token meant to give the appearance of fairness, justice, compassion and nothing more?
In good conscious they can’t. In reality — one never knows what the outcome will be in this new world of closed doors and unemotional, robotic decisions.
No, one ever knows, but one can always hope compassion and reason do still exist and will readily embrace the Harveys and those such as they.
Carrie Hutchens is a former law enforcement officer and a freelance writer who is active in fighting against the death culture movement and the injustices within the judicial and law enforcement systems.