Fired Hospice Nurse: Terri Can Feel Pain

Breaking News: Fired Nurse Claims Terri Feels Pain
By Jeff Johnson Senior Staff Writer
March 23, 2005

( – A nurse, who worked until Monday at the hospice where Terri Schiavo is dying of dehydration and starvation under court order, claims Terri feels pain and the nursing staff medicates her for that pain. Nora Wagner also claims she was fired Monday after expressing support for keeping Terri alive.

Wagner has been a nurse for 30 years and spent the last two years as a contract employee of an agency that provides nurses to the Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., where Terri has been kept since April of 2000. She told a Florida television station that Terri’s feeding tube should not have been removed.

“She’s not physically ill, other than being brain damaged,” Wagner told WPTF reporter Sarina Fazan.

Cybercast News Service tried repeatedly to contact Wagner Wednesday. She did not answer calls and her voice mail account was full and would not accept new messages.

Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, spoke with ABC News Nightline’s Chris Bury on March 15 and discussed the prospect of Teri suffering from a death by dehydration and starvation.

“It is a very painless procedure. Terri can’t,” Schiavo said, not finishing the sentence. “She has no cortex left. She doesn’t feel pain.”

But Wagner described the circumstances under which Woodside Hospice personnel would give Terri pain medication.

“The only time I ever heard her make sounds is, um, if she’s in pain like, if, you know, she has her monthly (menstrual period) and she’s in pain,” Wagner explained. “She’ll moan a bit and grimace, and that’s how we know, you know, to give her a Motrin.”

Terri was well cared for by the hospice staff, according to Wagner who said it is remarkable, “to be bed-ridden that long, you know, 15 years, five of those years at hospice and not have a mark on your body.

“They lotion her skin. She doesn’t have bed sores,” Wagner continued. “They take excellent care of her, you know, she’s washed every day.”

But Wagner also said that, while she was at work Sunday, she had what she considered “healthy debates” over Terri’s condition with some of her fellow nurses.

“They think it should be over.” Wagner said. “They think she wouldn’t, she wouldn’t want to live like this and they’re just in agreement that the tube should come out, that the husband is the guardian and he should have the say.”

Wagner’s opinions, she said, led to her being removed from the Woodside Hospice by the nurse staffing agency that had placed her there. “The lady from the agency called me and said she got a call from Woodside,” Wagner said. “They were very upset about things I had said about Terri and they don’t want me back.”

While that meant Wagner would not be working at Woodside Hospice, it didn’t mean she was out of a job, at least not yet. Wagner claimed her agency supervisor then told her, “And, if you go to the media, you know, you’re fired.”

Wagner’s response was, “Consider me fired.”

Mike Bell, vice president of community relations with Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, reportedly told WPTF that it was Wagner’s comments to the media, not her personal opinions that cost her job.

“We respect the diversity of strongly held opinions and beliefs, even among our staff and volunteers,” Fazan reported.

“Where there would be a problem is a violation of confidentiality and failure to respect the privacy of any patient or family member, and that would be the reason why the agency asked Nora Wagner not to return to Woodside.”

Fazan did not point out in her report, however, that Wagner’s comments to the media were only made after she was ordered to remain silent by the placement agency, not prior to the Woodside Hospice request that she not be allowed to return to their facility.

To view the archive of the Cybercast News Service’s coverage on Terri Schindler Schiavo, click here.

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