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Parents oppose care at hospice

The parents of Terri Schiavo argue that a nursing home would be better for her.

By ANITA KUMAR

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 25, 2000


CLEARWATER -- Terri Schiavo's parents are battling their son-in-law's recent decision to move their brain-damaged daughter to a facility that caters to patients who are expected to die within months.

Bob and Mary Schindler of St. Petersburg are asking a Pinellas judge to move Mrs. Schiavo back to a nursing home from a center run by Hospice of the Florida Suncoast.

The Schindlers say hospice does not focus on long-term care, may administer medicine that may hasten death and could refuse to treat certain illnesses, such as infections, according to a motion mailed to the clerk's office Friday.

"I'm hopeful about the motion," Bob Schindler said, "but we'll see what happens."

Michael Schiavo decided to move his wife from Palm Garden nursing home in Largo this month because hospice provides grief counseling, a service Schiavo hopes he and the Schindlers will use, Schiavo's attorneys said.

Also, the Palm Garden staff continued to be uncomfortable with publicity generated by Mrs. Schiavo's right-to-die case, and Hospice House Woodside has better security, they said.

George Felos, Schiavo's attorney, said the care at Woodside is not different from a nursing home. "There is nothing a nursing home can do that couldn't be done at hospice," he said.

In February, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer granted Schiavo permission to remove his wife's feeding tube, but not until 30 days after all of the Schindlers' appeals have been exhausted.

Greer must now decide whether to keep Mrs. Schiavo, 36, at hospice. If he decides to leave her there, the Schindlers say they want to have Mrs. Schiavo's medical plan shared with them.

Mrs. Schiavo collapsed at her St. Petersburg home Feb. 25, 1990. Her heart stopped beating, and she was deprived of oxygen for five minutes. She has been in a vegetative state since.

The Schindlers and Schiavo have been feuding since 1993 and have not spoken since. Schiavo wants to remove his wife's feeding tube, but the Schindlers want her kept alive in the hope that she will improve.

Each side has accused the other of trying to control Mrs. Schiavo's fate to get $700,000 she received in 1993 from a malpractice suit. The annual costs at Woodside average $80,000, Bell said.

The Schindlers are appealing Greer's decision to remove their daughter's feeding tube to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland. They must notify the court of the reasons for their appeal in the next two months.

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