Compassionate Care Or Stealth Euthanasia?


May 2, 2011 - San Francisco, CA - - California state Senator Ed Hernandez,(D-W. Covina) has a bill, SB 135, entitled Hospice Facilities. The overt purpose of this bill is to amend the building and licensing codes to permit Hospice organizations in California to compete with other states in creating new facilities for terminally ill patients called Congregate Living Health Facilities - CLHF.

The bill is endorsed by the Ca. Hospice and Palliative Care Association and opposed by the California Nurses Association. The CNA is opposed due mainly to the more prominent position in CLHFs of nursing assistants rather than licensed nurses. The CNA objects to the staffing ratio of RNs to residents.

This type of facility would provide care for those who are: "Mentally alert, persons with physical disabilities who may be ventilator dependent." Or, persons diagnosed with a terminal illness or with a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or both. Life-threatening illness carries a life expectancy of five (5) years of less. This latter definition is a departure for Hospice.

This congregate living facility may be operated by a city and county and have the cozy appearance of a home with a centralized kitchen rather than an institutional atmosphere in which the food preparation is off-site, as is now the regulation in California, according to health care analysts in Sacramento.

The bill's wording is vague as to where these facilities would be built, but it appears that for a specific community there could be a series of these pod-like buildings possibly referred to as villages surrounding a centralized administration facility.

While researching CLHF's I was immediately linked to a non-profit foundation called the Green House Project which was started on the East Coast and is now in several states with about 27 already in California. Though SB 135 makes no mention of this project, the online description of a Green House project community of nursing facilities for the elderly reads very much like the bill's description of Congregate Living Health Facilities.

The Green House project is funded principally by NCB Capital Impact (the non-profit foundation of the National Cooperative Bank chartered by Congress in 1978) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This is a public/private partnership of capitalism and government. Both of these organizations are working diligently to spread the goals and agenda of the Obama Health Care Plan.

According to the Green House Project's website the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - CMS - found "no barriers" that would prevent Green House homes adhering to the model's principles from being "qualified as nursing homes under federal regulations" Further, the Green House Project plan and design meets with the California Department of Public Health's approval.

The Greenhouse Project strictly adheres to the mandate for nutrition contained in Obama's Health Care Plans of providing locally produced food, especially fruits and vegetables. The California Endowment, a socially conscience funding organization, is included in the list of organizations working with the NCB non-profit branch entitled National Consumer's Cooperative Bank.

The concept of congregate living is the main concern of some Hospice groups and, especially by the Hospice Patients Alliance headquartered in Rockland, Mi. The Director, Ron Panzer, has written a book entitled: "This thing called Hospice." in which he details the types of hospices, the different agendas and principals under which various hospices operate and various anecdotal situations to emphasis the situation. He offers this book to anyone interested in gaining greater understanding of end-of-life care. In other words, one should not judge the worth of a Hospice merely on its adherence to certain building codes, but to its adherence to life-enhancing principals rather than the bottom line of profit and full employment.

The word congregate suggests a mixture of diverse persons or persons with diverse levels and degrees of illness. While all hospices desire to provide quality care and concern for patients who may be facing end-of-life decisions, mixing the imminently terminally ill person who other patients may create a negative and depressing atmosphere for the other less desperately ill residents causing them to loosen their grasp on life if they continually experience the arrival and departure of hearses from their residence and continual turnover of patients/residents. There would be no ambulances because when one enters a hospice they agree to palliative care only with no medical curative interventions. Mr. Panzer suggests that this is a real cause for concern and refers to it as a stealth euthanasia, or, the subtle encouragement to surrender one's life as a lost cause anyway.

Sen. Hernandez bill started out as a Spot Bill with little wording. It has gone through two hearings in the Senate and been amended twice into a 27 page bill. It has even been given approval by the Republicans who seem to be merely looking at the bill to make sure it amends the proper codes and fails to see into the future for the concerns ahead.

The bill will soon pass to the Assembly House and since the Democrats are in the majority it may well soon be on Governor Brown's desk where the probability is that he will sign it even though it will create a need for new funding.

The question in our minds should be is this being promoted because of love of our elder family members and compassion for their plight or is it being considered as the latest in full employment for the medical community. It will certainly create new sources of jobs for the building trades, the nursing profession, nutritionists, housekeeping staff, not to say even for convenience since all the ill and elderly will be housed in one area in each community, thereby, meeting the demands of an environmentally conscious area because all these service providers will not have to drive any distance to service their customers.

If you care to share your thoughts on this matter with your legislators they can be contacted in the following manner - the Hon:______, C/0 The State Capitol, Sacramento, Ca 95814.

©2011 Camille Giglio. All rights reserved.