Surely you’ve heard of federal allegations of patient dumping against the State of Nevada, which have it that over some years, hundreds of psych patients have been thrown into buses and transported to anywhere but within the borders of Nevada, to be unceremoniously dumped, regardless of the consequences for the patients. Saves money.
I heard talk of that about a facility in Poughkeepsie, what was once called the New York State Insane Asylum, where Rosemary Kennedy had her lobotomy, and where I was once the Catholic chaplain. The Hudson River facility once had a population of 18,000, with 9,000 patients and 9,000 staff and administration. The idea in its remaining years was to reduce numbers of patients and close the money hungry facility, no matter what. It finally closed the other year.
While I didn’t hear of carrying patients across state lines, I did hear of allegations about simply leading the patients into the forest down by the river and abandoning them. They would be found dead of exposure within a number of days. That seemed a bit too incredible. When I would ask about that, the process seemed to be a bit more complicated, with a bit more distance between the hospital and the deaths, so that the alleged situation involved having patients who were truly incapable of living in group homes assigned to group homes nevertheless. It wouldn’t take long to see the same result in the forest down by the river, it seems.
Whatever about that, I was once sitting in one of the admin offices, waiting to speak to one of the higher-ups, and whiled away the time by paging through some of the pamphlets left by pharmaceutical companies trying to sell their wares. One was a medicine that purportedly “cured” schizophrenia. Wow, thought I. So, I read it more carefully, including the microscopic fine print on the back of the pamphlet. It said that the medicine would allow nearly all patients to be discharged successfully from psychiatric institutions. The only catch was that the medicine would certainly kill at least one in every one hundred patients for an unknown reason. But — hey! — you save money!
Of course, such things may only be urban myths (and I don’t know if they used that medicine or not). However, I do know that there was a great deal of tension about finding ways to reduce the patient population.
It is a sign of a total collapse of a culture and nation when the most vulnerable are treated like trash to be dumped.
We’ve being doing that for decades — and by the tens of millions — with the unborn and just born.
Now we’ve moved on to vulnerable adults.
Very soon it will be about saying that Catholics cannot act according to their consciences as formed by the Church, and they will be penalized and worse for respecting life. But we’ve already come to that too. All out genocides follow pretty quickly. Know your history. But even if you don’t, that should be common sense.
One of the greatest gifts one could give society is to take care of those who are disabled in any way. Sure, we sometimes need help. Sometimes, institutions are necessary. I know of one set up for children who… eat… themselves… But, if it is possible, taking care of the disabled at home bears a witness that is known far and wide, and is greatly appreciated. If more would do this, we would have a much more loving culture. But right now, few do. And we live in a culture of death.
This is the greatness of Jesus, that He reached into this darkness, taking it all on Himself, so that He would have the right in justice to have mercy on us.
That mercy is not about doing away with the just effects of original sin in this life, such as weakness of mind and will, emotions all over the place, and sickness, and death.
Rather, that mercy of His is about having us, weak as we are, live His love for others, respecting them, caring for them, having hope that all will be different in heaven, where sickness and disability and death are no longer. When we do live this love, we ourselves gain so much.
It’s the little boy who teaches us how to love. It’s the disabled who teach us how to love. It’s the disabled who teach us that there is no “we” and “them”, but only WE, all of us together, hear on this earth, and for eternity, when we will be whole and entire, when the tables will be reversed on those who so hated the disabled as to have them killed for the sake of money, for the sake of convenience, for the sake of the sense of “power”, of playing god.
Jesus was that disabled boy, that disabled girl, disabled man, disabled woman, while He willingly hung on the cross to teach us how to love without counting the cost, never backing down, no matter how convenient, how expedient that might seem to have been for some. Love right unto death. And Jesus would have us learn that. And we can. We have all the opportunities in the world right before us, if we would only open our eyes.
Jesus is just that good, just that kind, to provide the strength.
Question: Although patient dumping is common to both political parties, is this new bid for patient dumping a fairly direct consequence of Obamacare?