Let me publicly reiterate my private conversations with each of you at your campaign rally on Labor Day. I am a laborer, a small business owner who works at least 60 hours a week six days per week and barely pays our family’s bills. I am also a strong advocate of elders and of children; thus, I vociferously support your combined efforts to cleanse Florida of pill mills and to “stop the pot” machine steamrolling over the Sunshine State, about to become the “Stoned State.”
Both of these issues are inextricably interwoven with each other and with another urgent elder issue – guardianship abuse. How so? The mentality that pushes pills to adults also pushes pot to our youth, in particular, and exploits our elders, by filling them with prescription drugs while in guardianship as Wards of the State of Florida. We call it chemical restraint. If there is one State Ward in Florida who is not under the influence of chemical restraints – anti-depressants and other psychotropics – it would be extraordinarily rare.
Typically, the State of Florida forcibly administers to each of its tens of thousands of Wards some or all of the following prescription drugs, commonly against the will of both the Wards and their families: Zoloft, Lorazepam, Clonidin, Lexapro, Seroquel, Ativan, Xanax, Risperdal, Haldol, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, … ad infinitum. If the names sound familiar, it is because these same drugs are part and parcel of the pill mills Florida has evicted from our borders. Why then are our beloved parents and grandparents victimized by court-authorized pill mills via guardianships?
At least equally hideous to the abusive use of chemical restraints on the elderly is the forcible immobilization of them through physical restraints, tethering frail elderly women and men to beds and chairs, such that they cannot move their bodies or limbs. On September 21, 2009, I personally witnessed both the chemical and physical restraint of my 89-year-old Father, Al Katz, at Manatee Memorial Hospital, against his will and mine.
From September 21 through September 24, with an emergency room diagnosis of cardiac and respiratory distress, my Father, a Ward of the State of Florida, was repeatedly drugged with Haldol, a narcotic that caused him to suffer vivid flashbacks to the tortures he endured as a slave laborer for seven years in the Holocaust. With each dosage of Haldol, Dad was infused with fear, which invariably led to what is known as four-point physical restraints on his wrists and ankles, tying him to the bed so that he could not move at all. Despite my pleas to cease the pill mill administration of Haldol to my Dad and to loosen the rigid physical restraints on him, which were causing him untold cardiac and respiratory stress, the Hospital staff did not relent.
Unknown to me at the time, Manatee Memorial Hospital had previously used the same chemical restraint, Haldol, and physical restraints on a patient whom it consequently buried due to cardiac arrest. During his Hospital stay for alcohol withdrawal in August 2007, Daniel Joseph Jordan, age 41. He entered the Hospital robust and left dead, a victim of torment; yet, two years later, the Hospital employed exactly the same measures on my Dad, a Ward of Florida, who miraculously survived after weeks of doctor-ordered chemical restraints, physical restraints, and isolation after his transfer to Manatee Memorial’s dark, deep basement.
The links between marijuana peddling, prescription pill mills, and guardianship abuse are based upon profit motives and a drug-culture mentality. We citizens of Florida call upon our Governor and our chief legal officer to cut the ties that bind these destructive forces in our State, which splinter our families and end human lives in immeasurable misery.