Thumbnail image for grim reaper.jpgUPDATE, 2/9, 3:40p: I emailed the Diocese of Paterson to ask for confirmation one way or the other on Barbara Ciccone’s status. It sent me the following statement:

The patient died at 3:30 a.m. Friday morning, Feb. 6 ,while being fed, of her terminal illness at Hospice of N.J. in Wayne. There was no wake and burial took place on Saturday.

May Barbara rest in peace.
UPDATE, 2/7, 6:45a: This story is getting stranger and stranger. Apparently although the St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital in Wayne, NJ, informed the Diocese of Paterson that Barbara Ciccone had died, she has not. I have written a request to the Diocese for clarification and will keep you posted….

UPDATE, 2/6, 11:35a: Just received this note, forwarded by Rich Collier…

I just called Bishop Serratelli’s office and was informed that Barbara Ciccone died this morning. The secretary said the Bishop was informed of the situation and was taking action.

UPDATE, 2/6, 5:15a: I’ve read some comments skeptical that this was a crisis to begin with. Additional thoughts…
The Diocese did not respond “immediately.” On the contrary, officials told Terrie Davis on Tuesday they could do nothing. On Wednesday, their initial response to Richard Collier was the same: Based on their past experience, they assumed the hospital was following Catholic teaching, and therefore they were not going to interfere….
It was only after Rich’s repeated prodding that they agreed to investigate further, and even then they did not respond to him until he publicized the matter yesterday and started getting numerous calls and protests. (Thanks!)
Most importantly, since when is a patient placed in hospice for abdominal pain? And it is a fact Barbara was moved to the hospice floor. (And yes, the hospice contracts half a floor from the hospital, but that is no excuse for the hospital to allow it to kill people if it wishes. The hospital would not contract half a floor to Planned Parenthood.)
Re: “feedings… placed on hold,” Terrie began marking the can of Ensure in Barbara’s room Sunday. The can remained untouched the last time she was allowed to see Barbara on Tuesday. At the very least a constant IV slow drip of water and electrolytes should have been initiated. Terrie said Barbara’s IV was removed when she was moved to hospice.
I agree there is a lot we don’t know.
But the bottom line is Terrie’s “feedings have resumed due to a change in the patient’s condition.” Would they have been resumed had Terrie not been moved to seek help for her friend? We’ll never know.
But thank God for friends like Terrie, legal interveners like Rich Collier, and pro-lifers who light a PR fire like you.
And this entire matter spotlights the fear of the culture of death permeating our society not only at the beginning stages of life but now at the end.
UPDATE, 2/5, 5:40p: I just received this statement from the Diocese of Paterson, N.J., with a request to post…

The Diocese of Paterson immediately responded to inquiries concerning the medical treatment of a patient at Hospice of New Jersey which leases space from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Wayne. The Diocese wanted to be certain that Catholic ethical principles were being followed. The Diocese was given information that the feeding tube was never removed and that the feedings had been placed on hold due to abdominal pain. At the present time, the Diocese has been informed that the feedings have resumed due to a change in the patient’s condition. The Diocese has been given permission by the family to release this information.

Thumbnail image for breaking.jpgI just received an email from Richard Collier, president of the Legal Center for the Defense of Life in NJ, that a mentally incapacitated 50-year-old woman named Barbara Ciccone is being starved and dehydrated to death in St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital in Wayne, NJ.
I am posting Rich’s alert on page 2, which includes email exchanges he has had with Diocese of Paterson personnel. Wrote Rich, “Because the Diocese does not appear to be responding to me, our only recourse is to publicize this situation and bring pressure on the Diocese to do the right thing.”
I just spoke with the whistleblower, Barbara’s friend Terrie Davis. She told me:

Barbara was in a car accident 14 years ago. She suffered traumatic brain injury and has been on a stomach feeding tube ever since, unable to speak. People think she is not in there, but she is. She is very expressive with her eyes and understands conversation. She loves physical humor, such as in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire.
She was moved from her nursing home to the hospital last Thursday. She may have cancer, but the family has forbidden that I receive information. Nevertheless, Barbara is not dying. She is alert and aware.
When I became sure food and hydration had been stopped, I asked Barbara if she wanted to be fed. She told me by facial expression that she does.

Time is of the essence. Barbara has been without food 4-1/2 days. To help Barbara, please call:
St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital Public Relations: 973-956-3738
Bishop Arthur Serratelli: 973-777-8818
Rich Collier’s email alert
A Catholic hospital in Wayne, NJ has withdrawn nutrition and hydration from a 50-year-old Catholic woman, and the woman has been starving to death since Sunday. It is absolutely clear under the teaching of the Church that patients should not be deprived of nutrition and hydration — the recent statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was approved by Pope Benedict, appears here.
On Tuesday, the starving woman’s friend, Terrie Davis, contacted Priests for Life, the Alliance Defense Fund, and Life Legal Defense Foundation, and they contacted me because I am the President of the Legal Center for the Defense of Life, here in New Jersey. When I learned of the situation on Tuesday night, I immediately contacted the Diocese of Paterson (Bishop Arthur Serratelli is the bishop). Our e-mail exchanges appear below. Because the Diocese does not appear to be responding to me, our only recourse is to publicize this situation and bring pressure on the Diocese to do the right thing.
I can be reached at 609-924-2213. Thank you!
1. To Dr. Mary Mazzarella, director of the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Paterson, and Kenneth J. Mullaney, Jr., General Counsel of the Diocese:
I understand that you advised Terrie Davis that nothing can be done about the patient at St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital who has been deprived of nutrition and hydration since Sunday. The patient’s name is Barbara Ciccone, and she was in an accident 14 years ago. She has been conscious, but cannot speak. Until Sunday, she was on a feeding tube. She was at a nursing home until about 2 weeks ago, but was moved to the hospital with abdominal pain. Terrie reports that Barbara was breathing normally and that her pain had subsided, but all of a sudden her treatment was changed on Saturday night or Sunday morning.
Whatever her problem may be, there is no justification for removing nutrition and hydration, if that in fact has happened. The statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on this subject can be found here. As for whether the Diocese can do anything, the hospital is a Catholic institution within your Diocese and therefore is subject to the authority of the Bishop. As stated in section 116 of Veritatis Splendor:
A particular responsibility is incumbent upon Bishops with regard to Catholic institutions. Whether these are agencies for the pastoral care of the family or for social work, or institutions dedicated to teaching or health care, Bishops can canonically erect and recognize these structures and delegate certain responsibilities to them. Nevertheless, Bishops are never relieved of their own personal obligations. It falls to them, in communion with the Holy See, both to grant the title “Catholic” to Church-related schools, universities, health-care facilities and counselling services, and, in cases of a serious failure to live up to that title, to take it away.
If this patient has been deprived of nutrition and hydration, the hospital should be instructed to stand down until the Diocese has an opportunity to investigate what is going on and whether it is in conformity with the teaching of the Church.
2. To Patrick Brannigan, Executive Director, NJ Catholic Conference:
I don’t know how to reach any of these people at night, and this matter is urgent. Can you do something to get through to them? The teaching of the Church on nutrition and hydration could not be clearer — the Pope himself approved the strong statement mentioned below — but Catholic hospitals continue to defy it. I hope that is not the case here, but we won’t know unless someone from the Diocese demands to know what is going on at the hospital. I cannot believe that Bishop Serratelli himself would say “we can’t do anything” without checking out the situation first. I also cannot believe that, if he finds a situation contrary to the teaching of the Church, he would turn a blind eye to it. He has the authority, canonical and moral, to instruct a Catholic hospital on how to handle this type of situation, so it should be brought to his attention immediately.
3. To Mazzarella and Mullaney:
Additional information: the hospital is taking the position that Hospice is separate from the hospital, so the hospital is not responsible for starving Barbara to death. This is pure sophistry. The hospital is implementing an indisputably immoral “treatment” strategy, and thus is directly participating in it.
The patient cannot talk but is able to communicate. Her friend of 10 years, Terrie Davis, is certain that, if asked, Barbara will say that she does NOT want to be starved to death. As a matter of law, the patient’s desire overrides any direction the hospital has received from a health-care proxy. It is imperative that someone independent go to the hospital and ask Barbara what her wishes are. If she replies that she does not want to be starved, the hospital MUST honor her wishes. But even if she says that she does want to be starved to death, no Catholic institution can implement her wishes.
At a time when many bishops are fighting FOCA by focusing on the conscience rights of Catholic institutions, the last thing we need is the highly public scandal that will result when widespread publicity reveals that a Catholic hospital is starving a Catholic woman to death in direct violation of Catholic teaching on the removal of nutrition and hydration. Because this case involves a Catholic institution, it is worse than the Terrri Schiavo situation. The Diocese needs to intervene before the situation gets out of hand.
4. From Mullaney:
Mr. Collier, Thank you for your e mail. I am looking into the situation.
5. To Mullaney:
Thanks! Please let me know if you need any help.
6. From Mullaney [40 minutes after No. 4 above]:
Mr. Collier, Our Right to Life Coordinator, Dr. Mary Mazzarella, MD, has already spoken to Ms. Davis. I can tell you from past experience that St. Joseph’s Hospital has a very strong Committee on Ethics that adheres to Catholic teaching and doctrine. Until I know more, I’m not prepared to conclude that our teachings are not being followed in this case. Thanks, Ken
7. To Mullaney:
I agree that until you know more, you should not reach any conclusion. But you will not know more unless and until you ask the hospital. There is more than enough probable cause to require this. No one is asking for a conclusion about Catholic teaching until the investigation is completed. But it will be too late after Barbara is dead.
8. From Mullaney [12:46 PM yesterday]:
I am waiting for a number of call backs from the hospital.
9. To Mullaney [this morning]:
Are you still waiting? Barbara is waiting to be fed.

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