Editorials

The opposite of fighting to save an elderly patient

Christy McCall, 41, of Belleville, faces a charge of neglect of a nursing home patient. The charge is related to the death of Eunice Vancil, 81, on June 30 at the Collinsville Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. McCall was a nurse there.
Christy McCall, 41, of Belleville, faces a charge of neglect of a nursing home patient. The charge is related to the death of Eunice Vancil, 81, on June 30 at the Collinsville Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. McCall was a nurse there.

At some point we or an elderly relative is likely to need skilled nursing care in a rehab facility, a.k.a. a nursing home.

We hope that our insurance or our pocketbook or our family will allow a good one, the kind that is bright rather than gray, that smells of flowers rather than urine, and where the staff smiles and helps grandma rather than dragging her wheelchair backwards down the hall, not noticing she's lost her shoe.

But what we really hope is that we never wind up somewhere with someone so callous that they ignore our dying distress.

There are two sides to every story, at least we hope so. So far the details have been distressing in the case of 41-year-old Christy McCall, of Belleville, who was charged March 28 with neglect of a nursing home patient. The patient, Eunice Vancil, 81, died of a heart attack June 30 at the Collinsville Rehabilitation and Health Care Center.

The Illinois Department of Public Health report tells this story: Vancil's lips were blue and a nursing assistant told McCall that Vancil was in full code. Usually that means a lot of people rush to her aid and start trying to revive her.

McCall stood in the doorway, said "Oh not (Vancil)," and left the room.

Another nurse asked McCall if help was needed. McCall asked for the coroner's number. She said, "Oh my God, I don't know what to do."

Anyone who has watched a television medical drama would know what to do. A trained medical professional certainly should know what to do.

But the most disturbing thing, besides Vancil's death, is the "Oh not (Vancil)" comment. What does that say about the attitude of someone in the caring profession towards another human being in distress?

Maybe part of what this story tells us is that we know all these details because the state regularly reviews nursing homes and how they care for patients. They report that information in detail. The federal government also rates facilities.

There's a wealth of information to help you decide where to go for skilled nursing care. Still, there's nothing that can replace an involved, watchful friend or relative for keeping a patient safe.

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