Mom sentenced to jail for killing disabled adopted daughter as originally seen on CNN
This has got to be the most tragic story I have heard in a long time. Get yourself a box of tissues handy.
Bonnie Liltz, mom to adoptive daughter with cerebral palsy, Courtney, was sentenced to four years in prison for fatally drugging her 26 year old daughter in an attempted murder suicide. As terrible at that sounds, what’s worse is the reasoning of why Bonnie did this. She had awakened with severe stomach pains and had been previously told by an MD that her intestines were going to fail her at some point. Bonnie thought that was what was happening, that her own death imamate, she determined she would not allow her beloved daughter to be sent by the state to a nursing home or long term supported living center.
This mother said in court, “I felt the only place I knew she would be safe and happy would be in heaven with me.” She came to that conclusion, because of a previous experience. A few years ago, Bonnie had her ovarian cancer come back requiring surgery. During that time, she was unable to care for Courtney, so Courtney went to stay at a nursing home. When Bonnie when to pick up Courtney, Courtney was “not herself” and angry after the stay. Besides what Courtney had to “say” (she was non-verbal), there was physical evidence of neglect: she was soiled, had skin breakdown and was sitting in a corner by herself.
Working in and around this area of the health care system, I can certainly understand that most of these places are understaffed. It’s not that they purposefully understaff themselves, but Medicare and Medicaid keep getting cut over and over again, so staff are not affordable. It’s that simple. Not that I’m making excuses. Any incontinent patient might be soiled at any singular point during the day, but if she had skin breakdown, it probably wasn’t the first time she had been sitting in her own excrement for an extended period of time. As far as sitting in a corner, patients that need to have a wary eye on them are often sat in chairs in the hallways, lobbies or other general areas, so all staff can share the responsibility of keeping a watchful eye on them. What I’m getting at is that the nursing home Courtney stayed at probably provided average care. Exemplary? Certainly not. The worst in the business. Definitely not. Middle of the road average? More than likely.
And that care drove a mother to the extreme decision to murder her child instead of having her receive that average care ever again. If that industry “average” is driving that, I would dare say there’s something wrong with our “average.” There’s something wrong with our system.
You and I individually cannot change the root cause of the problem– decreasing funding. However, if all concerned individuals keep this story in mind when we make our choices for people that represent us in government… Also keep our eyes peeled to interested advocacy groups for alerts, then shout from the roof tops at those representatives when they want to cut Medicare and Medicaid. When I hear of those items coming up to vote in committees or on the floor, I share what I know on my Twitter and Facebook pages. (Click the links to follow me on your favorite social media!)
Those are long term fixes, which are what we need to back pedal into better care. BUT that won’t change the patients in our care today or even next month or year. Where the rubber meets the road is therapists helping out with these basic tasks and making those activities therapeutic. For example, I take my patients to the toilet, or change their soiled briefs ANY time a patient says they need that or if they can’t tell me, I keep my nose on alert. Going to the toilet involves standing and transferring and some good pelvic motions to get clean there. Totally billable. Changing a brief: rolling, bridging… again, totally billable. If I can bill for that functional movement training and keep my patients from having skin breakdown or falling because they were trying to get up to the bathroom by themselves at the same time, sounds like everyone wins.
Obviously, I can’t bill for everything or be all medical professionals to everyone. So for the things I legally can’t control, like say I notice a patient is getting skin breakdown on those bums, it’s important for me to talk with the nurse and make sure they’re getting any prescribed medicine creams on that tooshy when I change or toilet it and/or have a good cushion on their chairs and beds from the physician.
Maybe Courtney wasn’t signed up for therapy during her stay. That is entirely possible, since she had been at a stable disabled state for years. So maybe no therapist was watching over her. We can’t unfortunately be with all patients all the time clearly. But we can use our eyes and ears for everyone that comes through our facilities and make kind suggestions to their care teams.
Remember Bonnie and Courtney. Remember that change starts with 1 individual changing themselves.