Privacy rules strand a shooting victim in Rochester

If the Rev. Amy Kosari didn’t know somebody who knew somebody, a woman with limited English ability who was shot twice in the chest recently might still be isolated on the Mayo Clinic-St. Marys campus in Rochester, Minn.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin reports that the victim, who is not being named, is from Iran. She has no family here. She needs a translator, a service that had been provided by Kosari’s husband.

But privacy rules cut the woman off from the outside world. She was not allowed visitors and her friends couldn’t find anything out about her condition. They could do nothing to help.

“She can’t move her knee, and I was thinking, what if they try to (turn) her, move her knee? Did they know her records are at Olmsted (Medical Center)?”

It got more personal:

“Do they know her daughter, Asma, is in Iran, and she loves her daughter more than anything else in this world?” Kosari asked. “What if she’s in a coma? Could she hear? I wanted somebody to open up a Macbook and get the Skype on, so (the victim) could hear Asma’s voice.”

Kosari knew the woman loves music and is “a deeply social person.”

Another problem: “She had no one to tell (medical personnel) her English is not good,” Kosari said, “so when you might say to her, ‘how’s your level of pain,’ she wouldn’t know what ‘level’ means.

A friend of Kosari’s let her in on something that’s a secret to the rest of us.

“Talk to the ethics committee,” the friend advised.

The chaplains’ office and the Patient Experience Department at Mayo Clinic didn’t know about it, either, Kosari said.

But there’s an ethics committee at Mayo.

“I emailed [Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy], then (the advocate), and within hours, everything had opened up,” Kosari said.

“It was just silence and suspicion from Monday night until Friday evening,” she said. “My husband, on Friday, asked again if somebody could just bring Asma’s picture, to put it by her bedside, and (the advocate) said, ‘why don’t you just come with me?’

“It was like night and day,” Kosari said. Not only was he allowed to see the victim, but Farhad Kosari was asked to make a list of people who would be allowed to visit.

Friends started visiting and the shooting victim perked right up.

“It’s wonderful,” Kosari told the paper, “but I was also thinking, wait a minute, I started bugging the patient advocate’s office on Monday, and I told them all this stuff, and it didn’t go anywhere. They hadn’t even looked into the legal possibility of seeing who (the victim) needed, if there was anyone around her who might know her, or might know if she had any pre-existing medical conditions — which she did.”

Now that the hospital has information from her friends, the victim’s daughter is trying to get to Rochester, but needs intervention from politicians to expedite a visa.

“It’d just be wonderful if nobody had to go through this ever again,” she said. “I’m thinking, how would I feel if I got bopped on the head by a robber and I’m in a coma at Mayo, and nobody sees me?

“That might kill me, because I know my personality,” Kosari said. “I need to hear my mother’s voice; I need Farhad there; I need my dad there, reading the Bible to me. It would break my heart.”

  • Gary F

    And she is the victim of a felony, and not a citizen, which probably complicates the privacy issue on the law enforcement side.

    • lindblomeagles

      I’m not sure being a citizen should be relevant. The USA has several foreigners vacationing and visiting our country. If any of them were victims of a felony, shouldn’t they be able to get word to relatives and friends or a contact here that they may have in the United States?