Years ago I wrote about caring for my sister in law, but since then she’s rarely been mentioned, and that’s because as her care giver, by law, I wasn’t allowed to speak of her. Now that we are in Arizona, and I am no longer getting paid to care for her, I can sing her praises and speak of her freely.
She is the sweetest, most considerate human being I’ve been blessed to know. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma 5 years ago, aka bone cancer. If you know anything about this type of cancer, it is VERY painful, constantly painful.
Moving to Arizona from Washington state, you’d think the weather would be the biggest adjustment, you’d be wrong. Getting appointments, getting prescriptions filled, especially morphine has been crazy difficult.
Prior to our move, we set up an appointment with her new oncologist, but having to change Medicare insurance coverage proved to be beyond frustrating. After spending countless hours, days, weeks of calling different departments of Medicare, we finally get things set up. Or so we thought. Two weeks later we find out someone dropped the ball and everything was canceled and we had to jump through all the hoops again! There’ve been a few times in my life when I felt like I was on the verge of having complete and total mental breakdown. This was one of those times. No joke, Washington state is a standard to which Arizona can not even compare.
Here in Arizona the oncologist is NOT who prescribes pain meds, that is done through a pain clinic, and they are booked out so far that in May of 2022 their first appointment available was in January 2023.
Based on the situation, the doctor may or may not choose to prescribe meds to her until she could be seen by pain management. Thankfully, he did, but here’s the kicker… the pharmacies, every pharmacy in Kingman either runs out of morphine or will not accept new patients that are in need of opioids because their supply of morphine is maxed out with the patients they already have. If they took on anyone else they wouldn’t have enough for their current patients.
Finally, Monday the 8th of August, (since someone canceled an appointment) she finally got her first appointment with pain management. The doctor was awesome and was able to refill her meds that would be out on Thursday. So yesterday, Thursday August 11, 2022 at 7 am Nettie took her last morphine pill and we went to pick up her new prescription at Walgreens. They were completely out of stock! Again! This isn’t like a grocery store that ran out of my new favorite drink, 7up simple, this is a very necessary medicine! Knowing how severe her discomfort is I called EVERY pharmacy in town. CVS, Walmart pharmacy, uptown drug, Safeway pharmacy, KRMC pharmacy NOT ONE was able to fill the prescription because either they didn’t have it or they weren’t taking any more pain med patients!!!
Since we’ve been here (April-August) 5 months, when we’ve went to get her prescription filled, 4 out of the 5 times they were out of stock of morphine. When I asked the doctors, the insurance company, the pharmacist, their answer is all the same, “if it gets too painful for her you’ll need to take her to the emergency room.”
The accessibility of care for a cancer patients in Kingman is a joke. Doctors are over burdened, there aren’t enough in this town to care for the population. The age demographic is older here, so of course people have more issues. Being understaffed, overworked and probably underpaid contributes to providers leaving. Even the cleanliness of the hospital has so much to be desired, the restrooms at the dollar store were cleaner than the restrooms at Kingman Regional Medical Center. When I mentioned it to the receptionist that they needed attention, she acted as if I’d insulted her. I assume that the level of pay, the culture of the workplace and of course management has a lot to do with it.
While I’m on a roll let me tell you, don’t get dementia and be put into a nursing home here. I was told by someone who worked at a assisted living facility that a lady wasn’t checked on for 3 days!!! Workers took items from a residence room after they had passed away BEFORE the family had taken the items they wanted to keep! Also, an employee cleaned up a ladies behind and then applied lotion to her legs that had sores with the same gloves! The list goes on and on, it is beyond heart breaking. There are too many residents, not enough care givers and no real standard of care or cleanliness.
I could get into the politics of the parties, blah blah blah but what it comes down to is that these are people, Nettie if included, that are being given less than decent care. It comes down to flat out, blatant, disregard to the needs of the older generation here in Kingman Arizona. I know for a fact we aren’t the only people experiencing these problems, but who can fix them? The pharmacist I spoke to today stated that she put in an order for more morphine, Walgreens approved the order, but the wholesaler denied the request, saying she is taking on too many patients that are in need of morphine, who like Nettie, have a legitimate need for the medication.
24% of the people who live in Kingman are OVER the age of 65, based on the 2020 census. With that information alone you’d think that the AZ CSPMP (Arizona controlled substance prescription monitoring program) would take that into account and allow for people who need pain meds to be able to get them.
I know there’s an opioid crisis, I know that shady people had drive through drug stores giving meds to people who became addicted to pain meds before. But to make pain medications so sparse that my sister-in-law is crying because of how painful her bone cancer is without morphine, you’ve gone too far the other way.
I’m not saying every clinic in Kingman is shoddy, but I am saying that there is so much room for improvement in so many areas, this town, this state has got to do better. Had we known how drastically different Arizona would be, than Washington state in regards to Netties medical care, and accessibility to receive the meds she needs, we probably would’ve considered a different state to move to.
Do better Arizona.