A few weeks before my husband died on March 7 at the age of 55, the oxygen arrived: a concentrator for everyday use and a backup tank in case of an emergency. That Barry had never struggled to breathe in the 10 months since being diagnosed with cancer didn’t seem to matter. Once he went into hospice, our living room was stuffed with pieces of equipment, a cornucopia of drugs, diapers, wipes, gloves, masks and whatever else the agency felt he needed to die comfortably at home...I can cite a relevant example from personal experience several years ago, as no doubt can many readers. After my mother died, I tried to donate her wheelchair, walker, commode etc to the senior living facility - they couldn't accept them. Nor could the university hospital. Or the local hospice service.
But caring for my dying husband also drove home the system’s inefficiency and waste. Among the unwanted possessions that were bequeathed to me after Barry’s hospice stay were an unused commode chair, a shower chair he’d used twice, a bedside table, packages of ventilator tubing, unopened cartons of fentanyl patches and painkillers, boxes of nitrile gloves, masks and numerous other products that hadn’t been touched. Other than the bed, wheelchair, oxygen tank and concentrator, I was told to throw everything out. The hospice wouldn’t — couldn’t — take any of it back. I now understand how waste costs the health care system up to $935 billion a year, according to research by Humana Inc. chief medical officer William Shrank and colleagues that was published in October in the Journal of the American Medical Association...
Just as fighting the coronavirus has cleared the air in New York and the canals in Venice, perhaps it can help us see more clearly the cost of other choices we’ve made.
I finally took those items to a local community senior center, which was grateful to get them. Her medications - still safely sealed in bubble packs - had to be incinerated at the local police station.
Why can't most organizations accept such material? Because the next person who needs such an item will simply be given new ones and billed for such through their insurance. We have such a ridiculous excuse for a health-care system that it's beyond mockery.