Friday December 6, 2013
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I suppose you have heard about the 87 year old woman who died in Bakersfield, California, and about the 911 call et al, but just in case, here's a quick summary:
Woman collapses in a nursing home. Someone calls 911 for an ambulance. Dispatcher tells caregiver at facility to administer CPR. Caregiver says she is not allowed to do that and refuses to turn call over to anyone else. Much ado in news. Social networks go crazy. Police to investigate.
Okay, some facts.
The facility was not a nursing home. It was an assisted living home. The 87 year old woman knew that she would received no medical care there, but chose to live there anyway because she did not want to "exceptional care" if anything happened. Her family was well aware of that fact. The person who called for the ambulance had been told that she could not administer medical care to the people living at the home.
The case is now closed. Although there was no "do not resuscitate" order on file at the assisted living home police have determined there no criminal act occurred.
The 87 year old woman died of natural causes, which was her wish. The family is comfortable with what occurred and feels that too much was made over what should have been a private event.
"It was our beloved mother and grandmother's wish to die naturally and without any kind of life prolonging intervention," the family said. "We understand that the 911 tape of this event has caused concern, but our family knows that mom had full knowledge of the limitations of Glenwood Gardens and is at peace. We regret that this private and most personal time has been escalated by the media."
The family said it would not sue or try to profit from the death. They added that is was "a lesson we can all learn from."
Is there something we can learn from all this?
Tom, Thanks for the facts regarding a case that perhaps bothered millions of people who heard the 911 tape on mass media. I do think that we can learn something. The mass media and perhaps local media as well often do not do the jobs that they should be doing. If they really wish to convey "news" to the public, there should be a rigid code of ethics that is rigidly enforced by the media itself. Things like "neutrality", full disclosure, investigations to find the "truth" behind stories, and such like would certainly be welcome. I never heard any of the information that you presented after the initial story of behavior that seemed cruel. If they had our interests at heart a follow-up would have been appropriate. Perhaps "truth" is not high on the list of priorities?
I know because I talk with some of them that there are journalists who were awake and listening when journalistic ethics was discussed. They too, feel that the national media, especially the electronic media, has fallen by the wayside. There are two fundamental problems.
One is what happened when the evening news changed from the "loss-leader" of the television an radio world. For decades the news was looked upon as a public service, something done at a loss, but done nevertheless. Then someone got the idea that if news were made controversial enough it would attract more listeners. That was the end of even-handed, professional electronic news.
The other thing is what happened when the fully-owned stations and papers went out the window, replaced by corporate executives who also went for the money. It may shock you to learn this, but honest journalists would lose their jobs if they reported the news with the "wrong" slant.
I invite you to read "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News" by Bernard Goldberg. Goldberg was empoyed by CBS and became so disturbed by the limitations placed on what he could report that he wrote an op-ed piece revealing all--and got fired for it. Then he wrote his book. What he does for a living now I do not now.
That does not mean that reporters should remain uninvolved with the news they report. An honest reporter has a duty to point out things the average reader might miss. If it were not for the press pointing things out to us we would miss a lot. Notice how fast a repressive regime goes after the press and stifles free reporting. But there's a point beyond which reporting must not go. All good journalists know where that point lies.
Think back on the days of Walter Cronkite. Cronkite is often accused of having a personal bias, and that may very well be true, but there can be no doubt that what he reported was the truth as he saw it. He did not manipulate the facts, nor did he go for hyped up reports to sell air time.
There's a great deal of difference between well written, pithy news presented with a little verve, and news presented in such a way that it distorts the truth. I love reading a well written story. I find news reporting with a little pizzaz in it to be stimulating. A few well chosen words and phrases here and there can turn a dull report into something far better.
As to this story, I put it up exactly because I knew what had been done with it by the TV media. What the attendant did was exactly what she had been trained to do, and exactly what the elderly woman had chosen to have happen. Sad? Yes. A personal tragedy, but if choices are going to be made, I think they should be made by the people they most affect, and that is always the individual.
Turning a person choice into a three ring circus helps no one.
Tom, Bernie Goldberg is a regular guest on Bill O Reilly's show on Fox . He most frequently discusses how the Media distorts or tilts things.
Thanks, John. So that's where he went. I miss a lot of things because I never see TV.
Here's a question for you, but it's one you may not want to answer.
There is nothing tougher than some of the decisions we have to make as life grinds to a halt. One of them is "do not rescusitate." There are others. They are not only tough on the person who makes them for himself; they are as tough of tougher for those who love them and care about them. We all know what they are. They could be classified into "let it happen" versus "fight to the last breath." Some people make a choice, some don't. That leaves the choice to others. Care to comment?
Tom, Yes, it is a very tough question to answer. Also it is quite individual, as it should be. I do not fear death as much as I fear dying. It is after all an expeience over which I have very little or no control and I am not good at anything over which I have no control. That being said, the uniquerness of each of us tells me that uniqueness of my death will make it difficult to preordain what steps should be taken at that time. At this point in time I will leave decisions about exraordinary efforts to prevent me from dying to my doctor. I will hope that I will have had conversations with my physician regarding guidlines for decision making.The truth seems to be that many/most of us die in the hands of people other than "my doctor", which may make the question mute. In the end, I will have those conversations that I shoud have and then trust that if my doctor is present he will make the wise decisions.
My husband and I filled out all the papers a long time ago for when we reached the time someone had to make a decision. We did not want our kids to have to do it or some dr. keep us on life support to make more money. Was so thankful we had it done as my husband had dementia the last part of his life. When we knew he would never be able to come home two of my kids and I went to Messingers and made all the funeral arragements for me and my husband. I did not want to wait and have my kids have to do it. All papers were filled out, caskets chosen and paid for. All that had and has to be done is fill in a date of death.
If this sound morbid, forget it. It wasn't.
It is much easier to make decisions when you are not under all the stress of the time.
Tough subject. Don't want to dwell on it.
My advice is to find out what the options are, talk it over, and do whatever you think is right.
If it isn't on paper, to many people get involved. Family, Drs. lawyers etc.
You're right, Pat.
By the way, folks. I got all the paperwork I needed at the front desk in PRMC, and have paperwork filed in PRMC for Lolly and myself. I think it's a great thing that they offer that service.
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