By Anne O’Meara, Executive Director
In May of 2020, we introduced the HALO Helpline (1-888-221-4256)! This was an exciting milestone for HALO, and we want to thank YOU for helping make this possible.
With respect to the timing of the rollout, I believe God lent a hand. As you know, 2020 has been an unbelievable year. We have struggled with an unprecedented global battle with the coronavirus pandemic. We have seen disturbing headlines regarding doctors and hospitals discussing the “necessity” of rationing ventilators and weighing universal DNR orders for coronavirus patients. And now it seems that COVID is being used as a pretext to usher in “rationing of care.” Numerous recent news stories, including Ohio ‘Extremely Close’ To Rationing Care Due To COVID-19 Surge (yahoo.com) and Sultan: Who gets health care if rationing begins? | Aisha Sultan | stltoday.com, show that a coordinated campaign is underway to condition the public to get used to rationing care as a component of the “new normal.”
COVID-19 has clearly exposed the vulnerability of the elderly and disabled, particularly when healthcare resources are considered “scarce.” While we understand that resources which are scarce may not be available to everyone who needs them, our Helpline patient advocates can advise callers about patients’ rights, especially when they are at risk of unjust discrimination. Decisions about who receives treatment must never be based solely on age or disability.
The HALO Helpline has expanded HALO’s reach and ability to deliver on our mission “to promote, protect, and advocate for the rights of the medically vulnerable.” Our volunteer patient advocates offer free and confidential information, support, and referrals for patients, their family members, and caregivers who have concerns about the treatment and care a patient is receiving in any healthcare setting, either at home or in a facility.
Some of the topics our Patient Advocates respond to most often are:
- The hospital is threatening to stop my loved one’s treatment, including tube-feeding. What can I do?
- How should I handle healthcare threats that my loved one is experiencing?
- Should I have a do not resuscitate (DNR) order on file?
- I think my mom (dad, friend, …) died from drug overdosing in hospice. Am I crazy?
- What type of advance directive do you recommend?
As Julie Grimstad mentions in her article Protecting Lives Through Patient Advocacy, most of us will have opportunities to serve as patient advocates when a relative or friend faces a medical crisis or when they need long-term care. Preparing yourself beforehand may equip you to save the life of someone you love. To assist our patient advocates in handling Helpline calls, we provide a comprehensive Patient Advocate Guide and conduct monthly training calls. The FAQ’s in the Training Guide will equip you to handle similar situations should the need arise.
In closing, I want to thank each one of HALO’s volunteer patient advocates. Like the three kings displayed at the top of this newsletter, each patient advocate generously gives the gifts of their time and talents to honor God and show love to His children who are facing distressing medical situations. We are grateful beyond measure for their support. In future newsletters, we plan to introduce our volunteer patient advocates to you. Watch for more information!