DEARBORN — A local family is frustrated with Beaumont Hospital- Dearborn (formerly Oakwood Hospital- Dearborn) regarding the treatment of an elderly relative who has remained hospitalized for more than 18 months.
Amine Zriek, 86, had been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2009, due to 50 years of heavy smoking. He made frequent visits to various local hospitals due to his worsening condition, which included breathing problems, lung and respiratory infections and congestive heart failure. He is currently placed on a ventilator.
The family claims that on Friday, October 2, he was transferred to Beaumont in Dearborn after doctors at Beaumont Hospital- Wayne had ruptured and damaged his liver while trying to remove fluid from his lungs. The family alleges the medical error has caused him endless severe pain and suffering.
Shortly after this, hospital management removed Zriek’s longtime Arabic-speaking family doctor and placed him under the care of a doctor who had never treated him before.
In November, Beaumont- Dearborn filed a petition in Wayne County Probate Court to revoke guardianship from Zriek’s family. He had exhausted his Medicare benefits and the hospital was looking to place him in a sub acute rehabilitation facility either in Grand Rapids or Toledo, a move the family strongly opposes.
“That makes no sense of how a complete stranger with no blood ties or similar cultural background is making these decisions on behalf of the family for my grandfather,” said Zinab Zriek. “Where is the logic and justice behind that?”
Earlier this month a judge approved revoking the family’s guardianship rights. However, an independent doctor will be reviewing Zriek’s medical records to determine whether he is stable enough to be moved out the Beaumont- Dearborn facility. An unscheduled follow up hearing is expected in coming weeks.
The family believes the hospital is persistent on removing Zriek from the facility because he has become a financial burden. The hospital is persistent on moving him to a sub acute facility that receives subsidized funding from the state and would allow him to stay in their care for as long as needed.
On Friday, November 20, the family said a nurse made a request to move Zriek from the eighth floor of the hospital to the third floor to receive intensive care. However, shortly after that request a doctor cancelled it and kept him on the eighth floor.
Zinab Zriek expressed concern that the hospital is undermining her grandfather’s condition, making it appear that he no longer needs extensive treatment. However, she said his condition has only worsened in recent weeks.
“Within the last month he has been on code blue,” she said. “He has not been responsive and they’ve had to send a whole team in to get him to respond. He needs acute care, but they insist that he needs to be taken to another facility.”
The family said within the last few weeks, Zriek has suffered from a high fever, vomiting and very inconsistent blood pressure that reaches both alarmingly low and high levels. As recently as last week, doctors had to perform two rapid response calls on him, which left him drifting in and out of consciousness.
During the last two months the family said they’ve been given the runaround by hospital staff regarding Zriek’s condition. At one point, doctors placed him on an antipsychotic medication called Risperdal, usually given to patients with bipolar or schizophrenic disorder. The family claims the medication made him senile.
During another incident, a doctor claimed Zriek had stage 4 lung cancer. But no biopsy was ever followed through to confirm that diagnosis, despite numerous concerns from the family to do so.
The family said the mistreatment Zriek has been subjected to by hospital staff has mentally impacted him and contributed to his deteriorating health. The family is concerned that if the hospital succeeds in relocating him to another care facility, he might not survive much longer.
Moving him to a distant facility will cause his family to become estranged from him. Zriek has eight children and many grandchildren who have been making frequent visits to the hospital. If he is moved away from the area, it will become increasingly difficult for them to see him.
There is also concerns that a new guardian may make decisions that would contradict Zriek’s and the family’s cultural and religious beliefs. Muslims generally oppose assisted suicide and hospice care, but those decisions could very well be made on Zriek’s behalf now that the family has lost guardianship.
“Without having his family there, he won’t survive,” Zinab Zriek said. “What’s kept him alive up to this point is the fact that we’ve been around him. If they take my grandfather away to another facility, he will lose all hope to live and survive.”
The family believes a facility needs to be established in the community that would cater to cultural and religious needs of patients and families.
“It’s important for our community to know that we need to find a place that would cater to our loved ones and ourselves so we aren’t put in uncomfortable situations and forced to make difficult decisions,” she said.
A Beaumont representative declined to comment on Zriek’s case, stating that it was still pending in litigation.