In my own words…
Message to Wilkes: Go play with the sharks!'
Sept. 2, 2001
In response to your article "Florida Law Firm Targets Nursing Homes" (The Meridian Star, Aug. 17), I would just like to start by saying that I am completely appalled by this "most hated man's" opinion on nursing homes.
I wonder if this man has actually ever set foot in a nursing home. Mr. Wilkes stated that he "believes" that nursing homes are a bad way to care for the elderly. It is very evident that this man has never stepped into a run down house of an elderly couple and have to wade through trash and feces just to get to the urine soaked couch that held the elderly man who has had no strength to even get up and his wife too frail to help him.
He has never seen the relief on this couple's face when they learn that they are going to a place that can care for both of them and provide the medical care the husband needs and know that they will have three hot meals, warm beds and a caring environment to spend their last days together.
Nor has this man learned of the elderly patient that stays at home because the family just can't give up and realize that they are unable to care for him/her anymore. This patient has become total care for the family, home health visits some but it isn't enough and this patient develops bad bed sores that eventually turn to gangrene and the patient has both legs amputated. (This only happens in nursing homes, right?)
The nursing home industry has many wonderful, loving people who are caring for our elderly. These caregivers are there because of the love of their job and not to get rich, I promise you. No one will receive large retirements from working in a nursing home, but the rewards you receive daily from caring for someone who needs your help last a lifetime and that is something you can't put a price tag on.
Mr. Wilkes is hurting everyone, including the very ones that he claims to be helping. At this rate, the nursing homes will have to start refusing to accept patients that are deemed "high risk" because of the liability issues this man is trying to stir. Where will these patients go? Home? On the street? Another country away from vultures like him?
There are many of our elderly population that can benefit from assisted living programs and I am so proud that these programs are available for them. On the other hand, there are also many others who can not be cared for any other way. These people benefit from everything that a nursing home provides and is improving their quality of life by being in a nursing home.
As long as we sit back and let these blood sucking law firms come in and run the show, our children are the ones who are going to be burdened with trying to care for us when we are deemed the elderly in need and are the ones that are going to be the victims in this high stakes game. These lawyers are going to drain the nursing home industry dry and there will no longer be a long term medical facility for us to go to when we need it.
We will be forced to live alone or with our children (who still has to work because health care costs have risen 100 times in 30 years, and wonder why). We will have an aide that comes in at 7 a.m. to give us a bath, make sure we take our medicines and sit us up in a chair and place our lunch within reach. We will also have one diaper to wear all day long, because there are not enough aides to go around to come change us every two hours.
We are told to sit here all day long and not to get up because we might fall. Okay, we agree, but then discover that someone left the TV remote on the table across the room. Upon looking around and remembering, we realize everyone is gone and we have to get the remote ourselves just so we might pass the long hours of the day doing something other than listening to the ticking of the clock.
We stand up, take a step and discover that our legs feel like Jello. We realize we are going to fall so we try to grab the arm of the chair to sit back down, but it is too late and we fall to the floor. Now it is 10:15 a.m., our hip is hurting and our head is bleeding from a gash. Our aide will not return before 5 p.m. to put us to bed. So we drift off, only to sleep away the long hours of waiting on the floor and alone. While sleeping, we dream of a place where warm people are holding our hands and reading our Bible to us when we are unable.
We dream of being checked on every 30 minutes and trusting people to hold us when we cry and say they love us when we have a bad day. This place has people that listen to us and let us talk because they know that we are still human. We slowly awake with a slight smile because of the recent feelings of comfort we experienced during our dream.
All too soon our dream is over and the cold, hard floor jolts us back to reality. Nursing homes are gone. Our children do the very best they can but we just rather would die than to have to live like this alone. We look at the clock and realize we still have three more hours of pain and loneliness to go, so we close our eyes again in hopes to recapture the dream we will never have.
Sad? But true! lf Mr. Wilkes was so concerned for the elderly and the care that nursing homes provide he would be working with them instead of against. Of course, this might cost him something to try to help so I don't see that happening. It is hard for me to understand his concept of nursing homes cutting staff to reap huge profits when he won a $78.43 million lawsuit. Is there not a profit for him somewhere in that?
Mr. Wilkes, I don't buy your story at all. It is plain to see that you are a vulture and you are using our nation's elderly as your prey. These people are human and deserve a lot more dignity and respect than you are giving to them. Quit using them for your gain and go back to Florida and play with the sharks!
Ginger Hand works at a nursing home in Lawrence.