Friday, February 03, 2006

Not to beat a dead horse

Some of you may be tired of hearing about Ariel Botzet and may just want to move on. (see previous 2 posts), but I can't seem to let it go. I found this today and just thought I would share. Some have said why didn't someone try in intervene? If she really was such a bad mother wouldn't someone have noticed? Well, someone did. They reported it, and nothing was done.

I have personal experience with this. I am a home health nurse. Most of the population I have dealt with are the elderly. Occasionally, we may have a pediatric patient. I have made several Adult Protective Services (APS) referrals throughout the years. In fact, I just made one yesterday. I absolutely hate to make one. The social workers that I deal with kind of put you on the defensive and don't seem to think you know what you are talking about. They also seem to not really care. For example, the referral I made yesterday dealt with a mentally retarded patient that I have with Type II diabetes. His house burnt down 2 weeks ago. No one let me know. ( I see him every 2 weeks). So, when I do find out that it has burned down, I go see him. Well, of course his insulin and medicines burned up also. I fix his medicines and syringes for him. So, he went almost 2 weeks without any of his medicines. When I saw him, his sugar was 432. I tried my best to get his caregiver to understand the levity of the situation and she didn't really care either. He had insulin, which I prepped, but did not have his sugar pills. After 2 days of trying to find someone to care enough to get his meds. , I finally made an APS referral. I called at about 3:45 PM yesterday. The lady said "Can't this wait until tomorrow?" " No", I say. Plus, I'm not working tomorrow and it certainly can't wait until Monday. She sighs deeply and says " I was just getting ready to leave for the day" So, I quickly tell her my concerns. She took down some info. and said she'd see if it was worth persuing. This is how it always goes. There have been times when I've done APS referrals and no one actually stepped foot in the house. Once, I called twice about the same patient and still there was no visit made to the house. Two months ago, a APS referral was made about a patient of mine who had bed sores. She apparently had them for a while, but no one had made me aware. The patient was not bedbound. The sores were on her backside, so not visible without making her undress. At every visit I would ask her caregiver if she had any skin breakdown as I do with all my visits. Well, the answer was always "no". Then, a different aide went into the house one weekend and saw the sores and promptly reported them to me. I went out and educated the aide and the daughter. The daughter still did not make a doctor's appointment. ( I had let the Dr. know about the sores) An APS referral was made. The SW went out to the house and looked at the sores. She said the sores "didn't look that bad" to her. This coming from someone with no medical training whatsoever. So, nothing was done. Long story short, 2 weeks later, the patient died from sepsis (infection that started in her wounds and spread to her blood and throughout her body). Hmm, sores weren't that bad indeed.

I have made one Child Protective Services (CPS) referral and really didn't get a whole lot accomplished with that either. This was a baby with numerous medical problems who had a mentally slow, 17 year old mother. They lived in a house with no heat, no running water, and no electricity. This house was absolutely filthy.This, in and of itself is not cause for a CPS referral , by the way. As long as the child has a roof over their heads and is behind adequately cared for it doesn't matter what the physical environment is. The mother was just not mentally capable for caring for this child or giving the medicine. The baby was always filthy. Please tell me how a 2 month old gets so dirty. So, I called several times about this patient and nothing was done until a snake was found in the baby's bassinet. Then, they just made them move to a different house. They didn't seem to care that the mother was not capable of caring for the child no matter what the environment. The mom moved from the 2nd house and no one would give me a forwarding address, so I have no idea what happened to that child.

This is just my personal experience with "the system". I know that it is not always this way, and there are many wonderful social workers out there who go above and beyond the call of duty. I just haven't met one yet. Evidently, Ariel Botzet didn't either. If she had, she might still be alive today.


prayergal said...

I just read the page you linked to and I am wondering why this neighbor wasn't called to testify in court. We all know that the system is a mess. Like the lady you talked to that said, "I was getting ready to go home for the day". This whole world is so concerned about me, myself, and I that sympathy or concern for those in need is totally missing. In fact the mother and father of the little girl who died were probably so into their own selves they didn't even notice what was going on with their child.
Aunt Linda

bingsy said...

She had missed a significant number of days from school. 36 days = 7 weeks of school, granted it's year round school, but I don't think year round students go are required to attend THAT many more days a year. It just means there vacation is more scattered - which should have been a blessing for Ariel, since the school nurse could monitor her condition more frequently without a huge summer break. So CPS failed and her school did as well. I'm surprised too, because elementary school's have smaller class sizes than middle and high schools, and teacher's are usually very involved. It seems strange that nothing was filed on that side.

Anonymous said...

I've been obsessed a bit with this story ever since watching Dateline (my post about it is here), and the more I read, the madder I get. It seems like this child was failed by everyone around her. I can't imagine my son's school not following up on those excessive absences, for instance.

BTW, my son is in year-round school and he goes 180 days a year, just like kids on the traditional calendar here in NC. The difference is in how the days are spaced.