Should Family Members Be Present When A Loved One Is Resuscitated….or Not?
By Winsip Custer, CPW News Service
Beatrice Da Vinci said that watching her mother-in-law being coded (a medical term for resuscitation) in the ER of the San Bernadino Hospital Emergency Room brought mixed feelings. “As mean as Bernardo’s mother had been to me over the years I had put that all aside when I saw her dying. I felt an overwhelming sense of release for her from the shackles that bound her to her anger and resentment for my marrying her only child. It was as if an angel’s hand had reached down to snatch her up as the medical team pounded out a cadence like the percussion section of a full orchestra setting the tempo on the grand finale of some great funeral dirge,” she said smilingly.
Bernardo Da Vinci, Beatrice’s husband, said the experience was wonderful, too. Not only should the patient's family be allowed in the room during the code, they should be asked to play a constructive part in the process. Doc Phelps asked me to hold up a drip in one hand and a suction tube in the other.”
“Anything to help them feel that they were working to help their loved one hang on,” said Dr. Phelps who has earned the nickname “Doctor Pull ‘em Outovit”.
“And when the code is successful and the patient survives to full recovery, they will have bonded in unbelievable ways with their loved one as well as with the medical team that saved their life. On the other hand, if the patient is brain dead and on a ventilator, the helping family member will, particularly if they are the MPOA or POA, have a greater appreciation of the value of the life they helped to save. They will better understand the emotional, psychological, spiritual and monetary investment in the person who may now need to be removed from life support," said Dr. Phelps.
“I would keep the chaplain/priest or other spiritual resource out of the room until the patient has stabilized or expired,” said Dr. Phelps. "If such a person is a priest and he arrives after the patient has expired, the family may say 'gee, Father, if only you had been quicker he would have lived.' This charge was leveled at Jesus when Lazarus died, but of course Jesus was able to raise Lazarus after three days. So far, this deed lays beyond the expertise of most priests, pastors, minister and chaplains. If a Roman Catholic priest/chaplain arrives when the family is of the Primitive Baptist faith, or even some wings of the Lutheran and Northern Irish Protestant groups, a fight could break out disrupting the code and resuscitation process. Best to avoid fisticuffs in the ER or ICU,” said Dr. Phelps.
“Or let the family call their own priest or pastor," said Phelps. "In this age of budget cuts in medical care, they will all understand that supplying a minister is a luxury that hospitals and ER's can hardly afford unless they are volunteers and what nutcake would want to volunteer their time sitting around watching people die? Plus, at times like that Catholics are really hoping that the Pope, or at least Monsignor Kelley, will show up and not Father Canon, whom we loving have nicknamed ‘Fodder Canon’,” said Dr. Phelps. “The same is obviously true for Chaplain Smithers, whose bald head looks nothing like the flowing mop top of Reverend Billy Graham…the first choice of most Protestant family members when a loved one is dying,” said Dr. Phelps. "Both men are wonderful to work with and have a great sense of humor. Father Canon says when I call him 'Fodder Canon'....'yes, there's the Pope, then the Cardinals and Arch Bishops and Bishops and so forth with us lowly priests....by Canon Law the 'Fodders' at the bottom and in the trenches,'" said Dr. Phelps. "Well the ER, especially during a code, is one trench I'd like to keep 'Fodder' Canon out of," he continued as Father Canon walked by. "Hello Fodder," said Dr. Phelps.
Dr. Phelps has joined with Reginald B. Borligiousey of the family rights groups Open The Embalming Parlour, who claim that the historic inclusion of family members in the funeral preparation process not only helps family members to heal following a death, but also insures that their loved one’s favorite alligator shoes are buried with them,” said Mr. Bourligiousey of ICS Mortuaries and Crematoriums and president of OTEP.