FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Danelle Morrow (814) 254-6647
Senior Strife: Family and supporters to hold vigil Saturday to honor Marie Funk, call for accountability from local senior care provider
What: Vigil for community healing and accountability
Who: Family of late local resident Marie Funk and members of Put People First! PA
When: Saturday June 18th, 6:30 pm
Where: Senior LIFE, 401 Broad St., Johnstown
On Saturday, community members and supporters from Put People First! PA (PPF-PA) will hold a vigil in Johnstown to honor the late Marie Funk and to call to account Senior LIFE (a local healthcare provider for low-income seniors) for repeatedly denying or delaying her care, despite being paid by both Medicaid and Medicare to treat her. Marie Funk’s daughter, Danelle Morrow, will lead the vigil and speak out about the mistreatment Marie and her family received at the hands of Senior LIFE. Members of PPF-PA, a statewide organization working to make healthcare a human right in Pennsylvania, will come to Johnstown from Pittsburgh, York, and Philadelphia, to join Marie’s family and other local residents.
“Over 200 families in Cambria County have loved ones under Senior Life’s care. They need to know that they are not alone if they are going through the same thing my family went through. I want to help people speak out if they feel they are being mistreated, before it’s too late,” remarked Marie’s daughter Danelle.
At the vigil, paper lanterns will be released into the sky, Danelle and others will speak, and everyone will hold candles.
In the 8 months in which Marie Funk was in Senior LIFE’s program, her medical team provided wholly inadequate care, leading to unnecessary suffering for her and her family. Though she was in severe pain, Senior LIFE’s doctor insisted she did not need medication. After pain medication was prescribed by other doctors when Marie was hospitalized, Senior LIFE reduced her dosage upon returning home. Senior LIFE also delayed diagnostic testing for months before Marie was finally diagnosed with cancer. It was not until weeks after her initial diagnosis that a doctor at another facility informed her that she had stage-four terminal lung cancer.
In addition to the lack of care, Senior LIFE’s doctor and staff treated Marie disrespectfully, telling her that the pain she was experiencing was only in her head. As Marie’s health deteriorated, her family repeatedly requested that Senior LIFE provide more in-home personal care but they refused to give Marie the daily assistance that she needed, insisting that she was healthy enough to live independently at home. In the end, Marie’s daughter had her admitted into hospice care, where she died after only three days.
Danelle explains, “At first, I wanted to trust the doctors. But as time passed and more things were overlooked and avoided, despite several requests for tests and other treatments, it became clear that the issue was that Senior LIFE did not want to pay for these additional services. They wanted to do everything in house to make more profit.”
Sadly, Marie’s family could not afford a funeral for her. Saturday’s vigil will provide a chance for her family and friends to say goodbye. But more than that, it will serve as a protest of the mistreatment and suffering that Marie endured in the final months of her life. Marie’s family and supporters want to 1) raise awareness for other families enrolled in Senior LIFE, and 2) get Senior LIFE to apologize for the way they treated her. They also want to see Senior Life change the way it provides care. Danelle Morrow says, “We want Senior Life to know that we are watching. We want to make sure that no other family has to go through what we went through. Services and quality of care should never be reduced to save money. Profit over healthcare is an abomination!”