Everyone Please Read This

I am sitting here in absolute amazement that anyone would stoop this low.

This is a warning to anyone who is not a JW and who might have loved ones in the hospital, or hospice care, or a nursing home.

As some of you know, my mother passed away this past March. She was terminally ill, and was in hospice care with VITAS Hospice when she died.

Today in the US mail, I received a handwritten letter from someone I’d never heard of. She sent her condolences on my mother’s death, and then immediately launched into a conversionary attempt, and included some JW tracts in with the letter!

She gave her name and return address, which are in Illinois. She mentioned being “part of a nationwide healthcare network that took care of your mother”. That’s how I knew it was not the hospital my mother had been in, but the hospice that took care of her once she was diagnosed terminal.

I did a websearch to track this woman down, because I wanted to call her and give her a piece of my mind…not only for using my situation to try to convert me, but also, for violating doctor-patient confidentiality and HIPAA laws as well.

I was in luck! when I did a search on her name, the first link that showed up was on the hospice website itself, with a full writeup about her and her picture!

I contacted the local hospice director to let them know that this person is not only abusing their employment to proselytize people, but also they are violating state and Federal laws which are designed to protect patient and family confidentiality.

Has this happened to anyone else?

What these cults won’t stoop to!!

Something like this happened to a relative years ago. I thought that the laws would fix it. What did your director say? Will there be consequences?

My condolences and prayers for your mother.

whats the website? who is she?

My sadness for you in the loss of your mother. May she see the face of G-d and bask in His mercy.

I was raised a JW. I have never heard of this type of thing while I was in. I have heard of many stories similar to yours where local JW’s would send notes to people they would get from the local newspaper obituary. I have no personal experience with that, however.

I am sorry this happened and I hope disciplinary action is taken against the person who violated this trust.

Shalom.

My condolences and prayers for your mother.

I have no comment to the rest of your post sorry…never heard of it…

I did not know about your mother’s passing, my condolences to you.

You took the correct action. It is one thing to be charged up about your beliefs, it is quite another to invade someone’s privacy, break HIPPA laws, and try to use someone’s emotional vulnerable moments, for any purpose.

I would recommend filing charges against her and them.

Well, I hope that this woman’s employers (and the law) handle this the right way. What she did was out of line and illegal, and she deserves disciplinary action. Personally, I would be outraged if that happened to me. I might just take legal action myself.

Many JW’s will stoop to this level and lower. Their conversion M.O. is finding people who are going through tough times personally, who are in turmoil and perhaps not thinking as clearly as usual.

I did some more searching (thank God for the internet!) and just got off the phone with the supervisor at the Chicago VITAS Hospice where this woman works.

They asked me to send them copies of everything she sent, and they said they will take action.

I’m also going to send it to the national office for the hospice.

I’m thinking a lawsuit would be a good idea, because I feel very violated right now…if this woman whom I don’t even know, in another state, could get my mother’s confidential health information (and MY home address!), is anything safe from strangers?

What if she wanted to do harm to me instead of just proselytize? Does this mean no ones personal health information and contact information is safe?

Anyway, here is the website I found when I put her name into the search engine for Google (she was really dumb to sign her real name and address to the letter she sent me!):

vitas.com/staffnews/medicine.asp

Well its clear she was out of line. The tricky thing is though that most people who work at an agency have access to all sorts of private information. Personal ethics is the only thing that stops this sort of abuse and sadly those are lacking far to often.

I had a sister-in-law who was a Jehovah’s Witness. Her widowered husband still recounts how Catholic nuns in the hospital she was staying in during her last weeks of battling ovarian cancer tried to get her to renounce Watchtower. Apparently the girl gave back as good as she got, and the nuns dropped the subject. Whether they were really so persistent as alleged I cannot vouchsafe; it is certainly a piece of my former family’s personal legends.

Historically Catholics have been rather notorious for seeking deathbed conversions and deathbed repentances from people otherwise known to have been disaffected from the Church throughout their lives. Sometimes they are alleged to have used dubious methods. I see fewer claims of this in recent decades but it was a subject often used by anti-Catholics in decades past.

Even Protestants can be a bit pesky about this I think. My own dad was visited by several (Protestant) pastors while on his deathbed, all of whom urged him to some measure to make his peace with God. He refused all of them, although one was the pastor of his own mom’s church and another was pastor of the only denomination that he had ever had any respect for (Lutherans). He did consent to prayers for his family and himself by one pastor who made a point of not asking my dad himself to make any commitments. My dad was quite young when he passed away and stayed in denial about his condition until very close to the time he slipped into a coma, so rejecting the ministrations of the pastors may have been partly a consequence of that denial.

The only issue I have with your account is that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that a deathbed repentance is likely to be effectual. Like Mormons they put a high emphasis on living a good life, and if one has failed to do so during life, repentance at one’s deathbed is probably of little avail. It may be a nice gesture but it is unlikely to make a real difference in the afterlife.

Because Christianity believes God would have no one to perish without Him, we believe and hope that those in their last days, hours, minutes are given special graces to repent and come to Him. And sometimes we are regretably insensitive in trying to force God’s hand in such cases.

My regrets for what happened to your mother, whomever may have been responsible.

Yes…my dad passed away last September and I received something very similar from the JW…

The JW who sent me the letter was not seeking a “deathbed conversion” from my mother; she sent it to ME, not my mother. And I assure you, I am very much alive.

I’ll tell you, I’m sitting here, thinking about what happened. I just can’t believe these people stoop this low. I thoroughly despise their religion at this point; they can be very annoying when they come around to the house, but this was the last straw for me with them.

My husband is over here, reminding me, “Remember that they suffered persecution at the hands of the Nazis during WW2”…yeah, well, so did Communists, does that mean I have to like their beliefs too?

I really dislike the “in your face” kind of proselytization, but when they stoop so low as to go after family members that are grieving, that just is the last straw. I cannot stand any proselytization that involves deceit, trickery, or insensitivity. Not to mention illegality.

Even if all she did was send you a letter saying she was sorry for your loss, and included even the slightest bit of personal knowledge that could not be found via internet or newspaper, she broke the law…

At an absolute minimum… she will probably be fired…

You are also entitled to a lawsuit at this point as well for invasion of privacy…

Medical records are considered almost as sacred as national secrets… using them for personal gain is AMAZINGLY illegal…

You and your family will be in my prayers

In Christ

I’m sorry about your mother. And I’m sorry that this woman is making it even more difficult for you.

Let us know what happens later please.

Many people get info from the obits so that is rude to investigate you and profile you, I think this is wrong too. I would get a lawyer to investigate first and find out your rights. You could threaten a restraining order and report her. Hope it works out, that she feels remorse.

Good for you for investigating this and finding out who this person is.
Who knows how many others she has done this to. The Hospital should definitely be aware she is doing this.

Flameburns, I don’t know how you can equate nuns encouraging a patient to embrace the faith on their deathbed at a Catholic hospital to the invasion of privacy that the OP is talking about. This is a shocking violation of privacy and creepy, too. Good for you for reporting her!

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