*Boston Globe, January 4, 2023
Letter to the Editor by James Lomastro
Editor’s note: James Lomastro is Chair of Dignity Alliance’s Veteran Services Workgroup.
Kay Lazar’s article “Stranded in a hospital bed, with no guardian and little recourse” (Page A1, Dec. 27) brought a focus to an issue that does not receive much attention: the plight of medically and cognitively compromised people who have no one to advocate for them, especially in the institutionalized part of the health care system. They become stuck in the system.
Often family members or friends are not present or not capable of advocating for the patient. Providing advocacy and guardianship services is difficult and time-consuming, even for family members, and requires knowledge of the system. Courts setting aside time to devote to these cases will not do it for these patients. What is needed is a system of care advocates, with the appropriate oversight, who can step in from the beginning, know how to navigate the systems of care, and are willing to spend significant time and effort in the process. They can be temporarily appointed until a permanent guardian is designated. Such a core of advocates could be drawn from retired health care professionals.