Pat Killingsworth Pat Killingsworth

Dad is doing better! But budget cuts hurt some in myeloma community

I received an email about this example of the Federal Government’s sequester mess directly affecting a multiple myeloma patient.  According to sources at the Denver Post, Maud Sandoval, 84, from Ft. Lupton, Colorado, a retired microbiologist, was originally diagnosed with multiple myeloma and refused radiation and chemo treatments in October 2011 after being told by doctors that the treatment would extend her life by only a few months.

Here’s the an excerpt from an article about her small, local hospice center closing that the Post ran six days ago:

Lakewood’s Hospice of Saint John closing inpatient doors due to cuts

By Michael Booth – The Denver Post

Hospice of Saint John patient Maud Sandoval, 84, rests Friday as her husband, Tony, 82, fills out papers at her bedside. Maud Sandoval, who has spent more than 21 months in hospice care, will be relocated to another facility because of budget cuts. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

Hospice of Saint John patient Maud Sandoval, 84, rests Friday as her husband, Tony, 82, fills out papers at her bedside. Maud Sandoval, who has spent more than 21 months in hospice care, will be relocated to another facility because of budget cuts. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

Hospice of Saint John in Lakewood, one of the nation’s oldest inpatient centers for easing death, is closing after 35 years, victim to federal sequestration cuts and thin health care margins.  Most of the 14 remaining patients must be moved.

A few will be cared for until death at the hospice if they are too ill for transfer, hospice officials said. The board voted to stop admitting new patients to the 44-bed center in mid-June, a move that left “no dry eye in the house,” president Steve Cooper said.

Hospices rely on Medicare payments for much of their revenue, and the April sequestration meant an across-the-board 2 percent Medicare cut for all inpatient services in hospitals and other facilities. Hospice of Saint John lost at least $250,000 in annual revenue from that cut, said Cooper.

“Our presumption is that Congress had no idea of the collateral damage” from sequestration, Cooper said. “They don’t see it affecting people who can’t afford to be affected.”

Because of other federal budget wrangling, Medicare bills weren’t paid for 10 days beginning last Oct. 1, another tough blow to the nonprofit center, Cooper said.

Hospice of Saint John will continue its home-based services, which focus on medical palliative care and a more comfortable end for both patients and family members than acute-care hospitals provide. The home-based services previously provided a small margin that supported money-losing care at the hospice’s inpatient beds…

A specific example of how Congress’ obstructionist wrangling has negatively affected member(s) of our myeloma patient community.

You can read more: 

Lakewood’s Hospice of Saint John closing inpatient doors due to cuts – The Denver Post

Let me close today with some good news.  My father, Ted Killingsworth, is alive and able to communicate in short sentences.  His morphine dosing has been cut significantly, along with several other types of pain meds he was administrated during his recent rough patch.

The problem is with every slip downhill he never seems to be able to climb back to where he was before.  So although slowed, I”m afraid it may be too late for his downward spiral to be stopped.

DadBut for now–today–he’s doing much better.  My sister, Joan, shot this yesterday.  Dad’s trying to sit-up best he can.  And smiling on cue.  Must be all of your prayers working their magic!  I’m flying up to visit him again late next week after I finish my treatment cycle.  I’m anxious to see him again!

Dad is fortunate to be able to afford home health care at home.  Our myeloma sister from above, Maud, apparently is not.  Examples of the best and worst parts of our free market economy.

Velcade and dex today.  The Velcade hits me harder at the end of my four week cycle.  The impact and lingering peripheral neuropathy are getting worse, too.

But no worries!  My hip feels great and I’m able to write and swim.  Should be another great day!

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat