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Gullan, 71, 'too old' for treatment: clinic

Rebecca Martin · 15 Sep 2011, 11:16

Published: 15 Sep 2011 11:16 GMT+02:00

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“I might be over 70, but that doesn't mean I am dead yet,” said an outraged Holmgren to The Local.

Holmgren, who has had chronic pain after an unsuccessful hip operation six years ago, sought help through her primary care provider, the local clinic in Piteå where she lives.

After trying all sorts of pain relief to no avail, her doctor referred her to the pain rehabilitation unit at Sunderby Hospital.

Holmgren then waited to be called for an appointment but instead received a letter from her doctor telling her she had been turned down for treatment at the rehabilitation unit. The reason – she was too old.

The rehabilitation unit at Sunderby Hospital is specialised to help chronic pain sufferers overcome their disabilities.

The staff work in specialised teams and the treatment is aimed at patients aged between 18 and 65 – people of a "professional" age.

“It makes me feel like if I am too old to work then I am not allowed help to cope with my pain,” Holmgren said.

Holmgren's daughter, 37-year-old Linda, broke her leg earlier in the year and has since experienced the same chronic pain as her mother.

But Linda received treatment within a few weeks.

“Why can't my mother get the same help? IS life really meant to be over after 65? I only wish I could give my mother my treatment instead,” Linda Holmgren told daily Aftonbladet.

However, at the hospital they say that it isn't that uncommon for specialised units to have age restrictions.

The problem is rather that the county's geriatric care units, which is where Holmgren should be referred to due to her age, don't have the resources in place to deal with these cases.

“But it has been decided at the hospital that we will train a team to be able to treat older patients and so we are going to be able to provide help for them in the future,” Karin Hellsten, senior clinic administrator for the pain rehabilitation unit, told The Local.

Story continues below…

The decision has been made but how long the recruitment and training period will take, Hellsten couldn't say. In the mean time the local clinics will have to refer elderly patients with chronic pain to Umeå, were there is specialist help to get even for older patients.

But according to Gullan Holmgren, the trip of 200 kilometres from Piteå to Umeå would be too much for her on a regular basis. She is pleased that the hospital will be able to provide help for chronic pain sufferers in the future.

“But it might take some time before they have it up and running, and what do people like myself do in the mean time?,” she said to The Local.

Rebecca Martin (rebecca.martin@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:20 September 15, 2011 by bcarroll
Why don't the specialists from Umeå just skype with her? Many doctors and therapists do this to reach patients and I do not see why the distance should be such a burden.
13:32 September 15, 2011 by Addendum
Medical Dictatorship. Potemkin Health Care.

See the story of Rickard Leinonen, 77, who a doctor and two caregivers watched die and did nothing because the doctor said Mr. Leinonen probably would have only lived a couple of more weeks anyway. The Leinonen family reported the murer to the police who were sympathetic, but the Gods-of-all-Gods, Socialstyrelsen, said the doctor did nothing wrong.


Ms. Holmgren paid for health care. Send a therapist to her. If the state chooses not to provide the services we so dearly pay for, then our contract with the state should end. We should be FREE to use our money to pay medical people who care and who do something.
13:54 September 15, 2011 by bcarroll
I am from the US and plan on moving to Sweden. 44,000 young, able people die every year here because they have no health insurance. I am not sure which is worse.
14:21 September 15, 2011 by Addendum
@ bcarroll,

"Remaking America: Welcome to the Dark Side of the Welfare State"

This is an inexpensive, quick read that does a good job exemplifying what Swedish residents face regarding costs and access to medical care and its quality (or lack there of).

The U.S. is certainly not always easy, but individuals have a fighting chance and access to the best medicines and technologies. In Sweden, you should plan for international insurance on top of the extroidanary taxes you're forced to pay for "health care". You could need it to save your life.

Given the conditions in Sweden at this time, I could not in good faith recommend that anyone who had a safe alternative move here. Sweden can be a very restrictive, authoritarian society where independant thought is not tolerated...
14:31 September 15, 2011 by RobinHood
"treatment is aimed at patients aged between 18 and 65 ..."

She would also have been turned away if she was 16. Pediatric and geriatric care is often for specialists, trained in the unique needs of the elderly and the young. Better to travel 200 kms to see the correct doctor for her age, than receive the incorrect treatment from her local hospital, dabbling in areas they are unqualified to treat.
15:48 September 15, 2011 by Svensksmith
Next we will read of someone who is too sick to be treated.
16:48 September 15, 2011 by johnoleson
@bcarroll #3

I'm sorry, but 44,000 untimely deaths in the USA due to lack of health insurance is simply not true. Statistics with no backing are routinely quoted by those with a political agenda and then requoted by others until it sounds believable. Emergency hospital care is open to all by law. No one is turned down. The true argument in the States is not lack of quality care but the cost.
19:31 September 15, 2011 by jacquelinee
Welcome to Swedish hellcare.

Thank God she is at home and only is refused pain treatment.

If she were in a Swedish Deathcare Facility some of the "caregivers" wouldn't refuse to treat her to a little pain, that is for sure.
20:48 September 15, 2011 by play nice
13:54 September 15, 2011 by bcarroll

I am from the US and plan on moving to Sweden. 44,000 young, able people die every year here because they have no health insurance. I am not sure which is worse.

bcarroll, you are such a clueless buttplate - good riddance to you - off to Swedenistan with you - may you never return.
21:19 September 15, 2011 by swedejane
Welcome to Sweden, where only the healthy can receive medical care. Give this woman the care she needs, after all she's spent a lifetime paying into the system...oh yeah, and it's the "right" thing to do. And then give her a prescription for medical marijuana so she can get high and take the edge off of her suffering. Geez...
23:19 September 15, 2011 by dizzymoe33
I didn't realize there was a shelf life of 65 years in Sweden after that you are nothing!!! What a d*mn shame.
08:05 September 16, 2011 by Reptile
@play nice and johnoleson

Study links 45,000 U.S. deaths to lack of insurance


(Reuters) - Nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year -- one every 12 minutes -- in large part because they lack health insurance and can not get good care, Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday.

"We're losing more Americans every day because of inaction ... than drunk driving and homicide combined," Dr. David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said in an interview with Reuters.
08:16 September 16, 2011 by Kevin Harris
Do any of the posters here get past the Local's emotive headlines and actually read the stories underneath?

The women went to the wrong department, and was told to go to another hospital in Umeå where they had the specialist help she needs. Umeå is a long way away from her, but that's what happens when you live in the underpopulated, but extensive, north of Sweden.

No hospital in the world offers heathcare for every illness, for every age group and referals occur many many times a day at every one of them. Instead of asking a member of her family to help her with her hospital visit, once again, a daily event in any family, this woman has gone to the press instead. Does she think she's the Queen? If I got turned away from the geriatric department, (I am in my 40's), the correct procedure is for me to go to the correct department, not the newspapers.

Hospital workers reading this story must be wondering why it's worth reporting at all.
14:44 September 16, 2011 by cogito
@reptile and bcarroll: Before using this "study" as evidence of anything you need to know how to read a study:

Consider the funding, the agenda, and who is doing the research.

Date of the study: 2009. Obama is pushing his Obamacare

Funding: the Obama administration

Source: school of PUBLIC health. "Public" health is code for state-run.

It's all right there in the article you cite: "The Harvard study, funded by a federal research grant,... was released by Physicians for a National Health Program, which favors government-backed or "single-payer" health insurance."

IOW: They were paid to promote government health care.

The fact, as several have pointed out to you: by law everyone in the US is entitled to healthcare regardless of whether or not they have insurance.
16:25 September 16, 2011 by johnoleson
@reptile #12

The news article you quoted about "nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year-- in large part because they lack health insurance" was a Reuters article taking selective quotes from the original article. It was from 2009 to help sway the Obamacare debate. As I said it is politically charged.
16:38 September 16, 2011 by Reptile

"was a Reuters article taking selective quotes from the original article"

Can you provide me with the original article then?
17:54 September 16, 2011 by johnoleson

The Reuters article did not cite the original article other than "online edition of the American Journal of Public Health". The Reuters article did say "The National Center for Policy Analysis" called the study flawed.
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