Just received this email today...from yesterday.
Dear Peter and Jean:
Based on your informative emails, I visited Art Springer at Mt. Sinai Hospital on Friday afternoon, July 10, 2009. He is still unconscious in the Respiratory Care Unit, and is expected to be moved to a sub-acute unit of a nursing home sometime next week in keeping with his advanced directive.
Art looks well cared for, but he is hooked up to a ventilator and a kidney dialysis machine and has an eating tube attached to his stomach and catheters to remove his waste. Most disturbing, they think he is brain-dead due to lack of sufficient oxygen when he was in the ICU and his lungs were not working properly to use the oxygen they were giving him. Even though Art can open his eyes and move his head from side to side, there was no indication that he was able to hear or understand my voice or respond to my words through speech or intentional movement.
The clinical staff I spoke with told me that he has not been conscious since he was brought to the RCU. There was a TV set playing in his room but the sound was turned off. Following Jean’s suggestion, I asked them to set the TV to play classical music which might stimulate Art’s brain or soothe his soul.
After telling Art how his friends were thinking of him, I described to Art a POV special that I had seen on Public TV a few nights ago called “Life, Support, and Music”. This inspiring documentary focuses on the actual rehabilitation of a 30 yea r old guitarist from NYC who experienced a stroke in 2005 while he was performing at a Greenwich Village coffee house. The stroke created a brain bleed that paralyzed him for over a year despite the best rehabilitation therapy that rehab hospitals could provide. When it appeared that the rehab specialists did not think he would ever recover his functioning, his wife, sister, and parents decided to care for him at home, and nurtured him back to a full recovery. The film ends with him playing a song about his ordeal with glimpses of his experience. I don’t have any reason to believe that this scenario is realistic for Art, especially if he is brain-dead now. A cat scan that was conducted apparently “didn’t show much” according to a doctor, but this may not be the best test.
The doctor I spoke with thought that the most likely prognosis is for Art to develop an infection in sub-acute rehab and not be revived. The hospital would like Art’s proxies to help select a sub-acute nursing home in the NYC area for Art to be moved into next week.
I offer these observations to you in the hope that Art’s friends can help him in t his tragic situation.
Bob Griss, Director of Health Care Policy
Institute of Social Medicine & Community Health
I was going to try and fly to NY yesterday, but was unable to. I'm going to try and take a day trip next week on one of my days off...
Personally I believe he is aware...but that's just me. I refuse to give up hope, and have asked both his Doctor and Bob to pass that on to him...as well as let him know that I'm coming to see him.
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