by Virginia McCullough
Tuesday, March 8, 2005

A reporter named Chris Rooney wrote a column for the Twin Cities Times suggesting a terrorist murder plot that would help San Rafael's Kaiser Hospital rid itself of a troublesome 82-year-old patient who had overstayed her welcome by a year.  The patient, Sarah Nome, recently received national news coverage when she refused to leave the hospital until issues involving bad medical care and exorbitant billing were resolved.  In the March 1-7, 2005 issue headlined "Morons in Office, in the Hospital, on the Highway", contributing editor Chris Rooney wrote the following about Kaiser patient Sarah Nome, who, contrary to his opinion, is actually an intellectually sharp and politically active woman:

Morons in Office, in the Hospital, on the Highway

Instead of blaming moronic politicians for the woeful state of health care in America, not that they don't deserve it, maybe it's time to take a look at some of the professional, forward-thinking and progressive leaders in the health business itself.

For instance, there's an old woman chewing up over $3,000 a day at Kaiser Hospital in Marin because they can't or won't find her a room in a local nursing home.  Sarah Nome, 82, broke both of her legs in 2002 and just celebrated her one-year anniversary as a patient at Kaiser.

Problem is, they've been trying to get her out for months and months.  She won't budge because Kaiser wants to move her to a nursing home out of the area and far from her family.  She apparently needs full-time care, as her legs won't mend.

"The point is, I need care," she told a KCBS reporter.  "I have to have two people even to turn me....It's incumbent upon them to find me a place in Marin County."

So, while no one seems to have the common sense to either find a place in Marin for Nome to live and mend, or quietly sneak into her room at night and smother her with a pillow, she's racked up more than $1 million in medical costs.

Oh, but the folks at Kaiser, always looking out for everyone's best interest, did find one way to defray some of the costs.  They stopped providing Nome a newspaper and eliminated her TV privileges.  Otherwise, those medical costs could have exploded up to $1,00000000001 million.

Nome's case might not be so one-sided, through.  One local nursing home won't take her back because she's,  you guessed it, suing them.  Apparently, she's suing a few facilities.  For a gal who loves Marin, and wants desperately to stay put, she's not doing herself any favors.  She admits to having no need to stay in the hospital; she takes no medications.  But she's alienated all the places in Marin that would have been able to provide care and keep her in the county.

She's in room 502 if anyone wants to drop by with a newspaper --- or a pillow.  Anyone seen "Million Dollar Baby"?

Maybe both sides have their hands tied, as this situation seems to shine a light on what is a nationwide problem , said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a health-care advocacy group.

"This issue is becoming more and more contentious because...we don't have a long term care policy in this country, so there is no set way that we take care of seniors who need ongoing care," he told the Whittier Daily News.

In the meantime, don't expect the health care issue to get any better.

At the very end of the column Rooney makes a "disclaimer":  "This column doesn't really endorse the killing of frail, sickly old ladies, even if it does save everyone a lot of money in the long run."

Post 9-11, the Patriot Act took away many of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of American citizens under the auspices of Bush appointed United States Attorney General John Ashcroft.  The United States Congress buckled under to the demands of newly "elected" President George W. Bush and immediately imposed new laws to prosecute acts of "terrorism".  Several high profile cases have been prosecuted under the Patriot Act.  Despite his disclaimer,  "contributing editor" Chris Rooney and his publisher could easily be charged with threats of terrorism to put forth a plan to kill a helpless and defenseless senior citizen whose whole life stood as evidence that she was a life-long, politically-active warrior for civil rights.

What precautions then did Kaiser Hospital in San Rafael take to protect its very vulnerable patient upon notification of the article appearing in print?  On Sunday evening at approximately 7:00 p.m. Sarah Nome was brought a copy of the publication by a friend.  By 7:03 p.m., having notified Kaiser nurses,  Sarah Nome was moved to a new room for her own safety.  No one was moved into the now vacant room 502.  Twice more in the course of twenty-four hours 82-year old Sarah Nome was moved to different rooms as Kaiser sought to limit it's liability in the event that some "lone nut" assassin moved to act on the suggestion so well detailed by the Twin Cities Times.

In the course of the moves, however, Kaiser made certain that senior citizen Sarah Nome was denied any contact with the outside world.  San Rafael's Kaiser Hospital had moved early on to isolate her from any intellectual stimulation and/or contact with the outside world.  Shortly after she made allegations of negligent medical care by Kaiser that resulted in the destruction of her lower femur bones, Kaiser removed the television from her room, restricted her access to daily newspapers and refused to allow her to have a radio plugged into their electrical outlets.  In other words Kaiser, working in concert with others, isolated her while she was a patient under their care and control, causing her mental suffering which was intensely aggravated by their previous negligent medical care.

So Kaiser's solution to the terrorist instructions in the local Twin Cities Times, to kill their patient by smothering her was to continue to move their patient from room to room.  These moves isolated her from the outside world so that she could not determine for herself what was happening to her own physical safety.  Despite this stress, her mind remained strong,  inquisitive and active.  Although Kaiser made room changes to protect the body of their patient, it controlled what Sarah Nome could learn about these security precautions.  The question was troubling -- what did Kaiser do other than move her from room to room to protect her?   It was as though Sarah Nome was kept in a state of suspended animation watching what was happening to her body while her mind was not allowed to participate in her body's survival.

When this reporter interviewed Ms. Nome for over an hour on Monday evening, her warm and gentle spirit came shinning through.  She said "Kaiser is doing everything intellectually and diligently correct to protect me from harm."  She also said that, to the best of her knowledge, Kaiser had not put another patient in her old, vacated room 502, maybe because they were fearful that some "lone nut" would sneak into the room and act on the suggestion published in the newspaper.  Twin Cities Times, Chris Rooney and Kaiser Hospital and their principals and attorneys share equally in the endangerment of Sarah Nome's life. 

The remarkable fact is that despite all odds she possesses such a magnanimous soul. The human spirit and never ending faith in individuals doing the right thing is eternal and everlasting.  Sarah Nome is poof of that.  Her response to the chilling cruel events forced upon her at an age when most people  should be entitled to enjoy life renews our faith in the human spirit.

By Virginia McCullough © March 8, 2005