Monday, March 05, 2007

Only the tip of the iceberg

In scanning the Sunday morning menu of news programs, the non-hygienic and deplorable conditions at the Walter Reed Medical Facility was the topic du jour. As one would expect, there was rhetoric both trying to explain actions taken to remedy the problem, as well as, aggressive statements minimizing the issue.

The journalist Dana Priest of the Washington Post, who conducted a thorough four month investigation of the facility, explained that she had spoken with the various parties involved. Initially she had been contacted by a person who knew someone who was very frustrated with the poor living conditions at this renowned military health facility. She soon discovered that it was not one or even ten people who were appalled by these conditions but a significant number of patients' families and others who had access to the interior of this outpatient infirmary.

Now this story has opened a Pandora's Box from which different voices are resounding and into which the public is peering.

I have utmost respect for those women and men who are returning from Iraq, with and without medical impairments. What disturbs me is that the same deplorable conditions and substandard care and services are every day occurrences in the lives of many people with disabilities, as well as the elderly, who are living in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The United States government is quick to covet credit as the world's most developed and advanced country yet under its very eyes, we see physical, emotional, and sexual abuse in these facilities.

There have been sporadic investigative reports through the years of the conditions in nursing homes but there is never a resonating unified public outcry for surveillance and for humane corrective action to be enforced.

We all respect and honor those who have been injured by a historical misadventure, the Iraq war, of which they had no part in creating. We the public should not express any less shock or demand any less purposeful and immediate action against the living conditions that demoralize people with disabilities and the elderly who live in facilities in situations that would never be tolerated by these in power if they were themselves to residence of the same facilities.

1 comment:

liannallama said...

I agree! It is hard to reconcile that such a "civilized" people will hide their "unwanted" and elderly in such places. I dread the day when I am old, disabled, or unable to take care of myself.

Mental care facilities are just as bad if not worse! I have seen patients wearing hospital gowns because the staff steals their clothes and other patients steal thier underwear. They eat food that I would cringe at eating and the places are smelly, noisy and horrid. These people who can't defend themselves are easy prey for cruelty and worse.