Archive for August, 2009

“On the Street Where You Live”

August 19th, 2009 2 comments

MRSA can affect anyone.  It does not discriminate.  It affects newborns and preemies, young people, middle aged and elderly, men and women, black, white, yellow, brown.   It doesn’t matter.  It effects anyone.  I recently read an article about how MRSA killed the retired CEO of  a Hartford CT hospital, in his own hospital!  Then I found this excerpt from a non fiction book written by Julia Nora Pilas.  I cried when I read these two chapters of her book.  I can relate.  So can all the other MRSA victims’ survivors.

All of us who have lost someone we loved because of MRSA experienced the same shock, frustration, anger, hope then devastation, over the unexpected and unnecessary infection.  We watched as our loved ones trusted their hospitals to make them better.  They entered their hospitals frightened but also knowing they would get the best of care and the best results of that care.  The optimism we had is necessary for healing.  We must hope for the best and we expect the best.  Then when the doctor or nurse tells us that our loved on has an infection that may or may not respond to antibiotics it’s like getting hit over the head with a sledgehammer.  Then on top of that,  we learn that our loved one caught this infection while under the hospitals care. We become angry.  It is human nature.  When anybody is let down about something as important as our loved ones LIFE, it is enraging.

My anger fired my activism with MRSA.  It still does.  Something drives me when I write on this blog, or speak in front of cameras and reporters, or go to Maine Quality Forum meetings or write and call my Senators and Representatives, both State and Federal.  I know they are listening now.    We will make a difference for future patients. We have to.

Please look at this excert from Ms Pilas.  I plan to buy the book, maybe you will too.


I read Ms Pilas’ book.  I felt exactly the same fears, confusion, anger, distrust, and horror when my father went through his MRSA crisis.  It is an unnecessary shame on our hospitals and doctors that this eidemic in  modern healthcare facilities has not been controlled long before this.  Ms Pilas’ mother and all of her sisters watched as her beloved father suffered with festering infection with drainage so profuse that it ran onto the floor.  His kidneys shut down, he couldn’t breath on his own when the endotrachial tube was removed.  And all he asked for was “help” and “to go home”.  I listened to those same pleas from my father, for 3 months.   My mother and I wanted to take him home from the nursing home but there was no round the clock help available for us to care for him at home.  His MRSA rendered him helpless and weak.  He never walked after his infection, nor could he turn in bed or get up to the toilet. 

These are the real life horrors of hospital acquired MRSA infections.  The suffering is horrible and it needs to be stopped.  Anyone who reads this book will fully understand our anger, and the resulting determination to stop MRSA infections.

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Why are we paying medical bills for Hospital Acquired MRSA?

August 14th, 2009 No comments
If this was MRSA

If this was MRSA

A question looms around in my head all the time.  Why are we, or our insurers paying for Healthcare acquired MRSA?  I don’t get it.

If I went to a fast food restaurant and had a ‘bad’ burger, then became voilently sick or died because of it, I could sue them or my family could.  Or I may even be able to convince the restaurant owner, without the benefit of a lawyer but with documents to prove the illness, that they owe me compensation for my illness.

Mind you, MRSA isn’t neatly wrapped like a burger, so it isn’t as blatant or obvious when the infection arrives.  MRSA comes on the dirty hands of a caregiver, or on contaminated equipment, or in a dirty environment. But, if a hospitals dishes out MRSA and a patient becomes infected or dies, they still get a bill, and the hospital fully intends to collect that money.  If the patient doesn’t get the bill, their insurer does and they pay!   I know of a man who was sued by his hospital (who gave him MRSA) because he refused to pay his bill!  Something is gravely wrong with this picture.  He has still refused to pay his bill and they had not dropped their suit the last I knew.  I know a woman who has recently lost her home becasue of a MRSA disability.  Yet another has her son in a program that should be 8 to 10 weeks long, but she can only afford 4 weeks.  He was infected with MRSA after a sponge was left in his face during facial surgery following an auto accident. She just had to leave him in California because there was not similar program in Hawaii, where he contracted his MRSA.   Another lost her business, again MRSA disability.  Another spent all of her life savings after her catatrophic health insurance ran out.  And on and on it goes.  Oh, and lets not forget that my own mother lost the love or her life and her husband of 61 years because of MRSA.  Nobody can put $$$$ signs on that.   All of these people were billed or their insurance companies were billed for preventable MRSA.  None of them are able to get any kind of compensation for the error that their  hospitals made that caused their infections. 

There is no doubt that my father’s MRSA was hospital acquired. He went in with a minor injury and became ill with a major deadly illness, MRSA Pneumonia.  It is indisputable that he got that illness while hospitalized.  Fortunately for him and my mother, he worked very hard during his life and he had excellent insurance benefits.  His private insurance and medicare paid for all of his hospital bills.  My opinion is that the insurance company should NOT have paid his bills and neither should my mother have paid.   If the hospital dishes out infections, they should absorb the cost, every single penny of it. They should also have paid his costs for the nursing home, which he did not have coverage for.  My parents paid that from their life savings.  Neither patients nor insurers should be paying for preventable infections.

Medicare has started refusing to reimburse for some infections, but HA MRSA is not on the list yet, unless it is a urinary tract infection becasue of a catheter.  I believe this is the case.  Medicare should not pay for any hospital acquired infections, including MRSA.  If this were the case, we would see a fast and huge drop in infection rates immediately.  Hospitals would make the necessary changes, regardless of cost, to stop the infections.  Anything they would pay would be less than what the cost of these infections is.

My Maine Quality forum meetings have been contentious and arduous to go through.  But, we are making progress.  The one thing that makes me want to pull my hair out is when they bring up cost.  I realize that cost is an issue, but it is also an issue to patients, their families and insurers. How long do they think people will put up with paying for infections , serious horrible infections, that hospitals dish out.  Preventable life threatening infections such as HA MRSA should not happen, and patients should definitely not be billed for their care if a hospital is responsible for the infection.  It is adding insult to injury…literally. Or should I say it is adding infection to injury?

Representatives from hospitals all over Maine come to the Maine Quality Forum meetings.  I know that some of the smaller  hospitals struggle with finances.  But, money spent on infection prevention is money well spent.  Any money spent on MRSA screening will come back to them  in reduced infections in their facilities and reduced expenses that they  sometimes absorb.

I attended a meeting of the Northern Infection control collaborative.  It was held in one of Eastern Maine Healthcare’s new buildings in Brewer Maine.  I went through heavy huge glass doors and elaborate hallways to attend this meeting.  My guess is that the cost of the glass alone (on the two floors of that EMH building that I was on)  would, if redirected to MRSA prevention, would pay for an entire MRSA prevention program for one (or more)  of our smaller hospitals.

I never want to hear about MRSA prevention  cost  in these meetings again.   I have read and heard enough from hospital representatives,  about the cost of MRSA prevention,  and how MRSA is the patients  own fault and that MRSA is “just part of doing business” and there “is nothing they can do about it”  etc.  I want to hear about how our hospitals will stop these infections and if they are unable to do that, how they will compensate the suffering victims (or their survivors) of Hospital Acquired MRSA and other HA infections.

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Class reunion

August 9th, 2009 No comments

A friend of mine called a few weeks ago and invited me to a celebration.  It occured to her and some others in my class of ’67  that we were all turning 60 this year.  So, she thought we  ought to gather and have a birthday party for ourselves.  Leave it to Anne. We all trapsed up to her old family farm in very very remote Maine.

My husband and I attended this collective birthday party yesterday.  It was in all possible ways a blast from the past.  I haven’t attended many reunions, so it had been way too long since I had seen my old classmates.

OLD is the key word here.  Of course, none of us are old, in our hearts or minds.  Most of my classmates appear to be in good physical shape, certainly in better shape than me!  But, we all talked, first about old times, then kids and grandkids, other classmates,   and eventually about health scares  and or experiences we or family members have endured.

One sweet old friend of mine  had breast cancer this year.  Another has neuropathy and diabetes.    A few die hards still SMOKED!!  GAH, this was a shock.  All of my 60 something old friends had one thing or another going on in thier lives.  Some spoke of  of aging or deceased parents.  Still another recently was widowed.  I heard all of the ups and downs of life in the few short hours that we were all together.  My old friends from high school, who 40 some years ago all believed they were invincible, now realize that they are not and neither are their families.  To me, this is the number one reason that I really need to attend every single Class of ’67 party that might come up in the future.  None of us will live forever and the partying together and staying in contact  must remain a priority!!

I was humbled by my classmates’ comments on my MRSA work.  I am not used to this kind of  attention,  and at times it is a little uncomfortable for me.    I have been a obscure retired “old” nurse for a while now.   Truthfully, I feel that my MRSA work is simply put, nursing. I don’t work as an RN anymore.  But, I think that once you become a nurse, you are always a nurse.  So, in my own way, I am caring for my family, my classmates and my friends and a ton of strangers.   I am trying my best to make hospitals safer for everbody, and that is really just form of nursing.  So, I guess I am not retired…yet! 

Anne our party hostess said, “Kick ass Kathy!” 

If that is what it takes to make all our hospitals safer and cleaner, you can count on it Anne!

Thank you to my classmates for this great party and for recognizing my work.

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