Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Praying For This Family



Recently, I have tried to connect prayer through different items that I come across. Today, I came across this story and I just had to lift this family up in my prayers. This death is so sad and tragic, no matter how you "slice" it.


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- A 44-year-old woman who needed an electric oxygen pump to breathe died after an energy company cut the power to her home because of a $122 unpaid bill, her family claimed Wednesday.

Police said they had launched an investigation into Folole Muliaga's death, which happened within two hours of state-owned company Mercury Energy cutting power to her house Tuesday.

Mercury Energy's general manager, James Moulder, said the company was devastated by the woman's death and was conducting its own investigation to determine what happened.

Muliaga, a schoolteacher with four children between the ages of 5 and 20, had been off work since February with an illness and had fallen behind in her payments to Mercury, said Brenden Sheehan, a relative who provided a copy of the bill.

Relative says family warned company rep she needed machine
Six days before a Mercury Energy representative arrived Tuesday at the house to disconnect the electricity, she was $122 in arrears.

Sheehan said both Muliaga and her son told the technician she was dependent on the oxygen machine to stay alive and invited him into the house to see it. "Then he cut the power off," Sheehan told The Associated Press.

Muliaga began having difficulty breathing, became faint and then collapsed, he said. Paramedics were unable to revive her, and she was pronounced dead within two hours of the power being cut.

Spokesman says Mercury Energy 'simply unaware' of situation
Moulder expressed his "deep condolences" to the family, and said the company was checking reports that it had been warned Muliaga needed power for the oxygen machine.

"We were simply unaware that loss of electricity to the household was putting a vulnerable customer at risk," he said.

"More than one" disconnection notice had been sent to Muliaga's address over a six- to seven-week period, he added.

State Owned Enterprises Minister Trevor Mallard said there were reports the family had been warned about the overdue account.

"The correct authority to investigate this and sort out the facts is the police," Mallard said, adding the government would expect "full accountability" if the company was found to be culpable.

17 comments:

Mike said...

This is terrible. Technician and his manager has to go to prisson.

Anonymous said...

Too Sad. Nobody should have their electricity cut off so easily, but it happens. There are papers to file for people who require the machines to breath. My advice to people who fill out those papers, have copies made and keep them and call the company to make sure their accounts are tagged properly.
One day I came home to a house without electricity and I was not even a month overdue, same thing happened to the phone but that was 20 years ago and in a very large but classy Arizona community. I would hope that things have changed since then, more legal steps to take I would think. Everything else is tied up in legalism these days, the utilities companies should also .

Anonymous said...

This is a shame that something of this nature has to happen to show people just how small 122.00 dollars is. This woman who's job was to help and teach other's our kids, was shown that the big electric company needs it electric money so bad that they will kill you for it all $122.00 dollars. i would hate to see what they would do to you for $61.00 dollars of past due electric, send a tech out to cut fingers off. Geeezzzzzzz

Anonymous said...

Before you all rush to judgement regarding this power company, take a little time to study the facts:

The family has reported to the press that the woman was using an "oxygen machine." This, however, is how the Chief medical officer describes it:

Counties Manukau Chief Medical Officer Don Mackie said Mrs Muliaga was sent home from Middlemore Hospital earlier this month.

She had been admitted with a cardio-respiratory complaint and was discharged with a breathing support device, he said.

"We do not expect it to be used 24 hours a day. Most people use them at night, particularly just to support their breathing and to relieve any distress from breathlessness while they are sleeping."

Later, he told Radio New Zealand Mrs Muliaga would not have been sent home if she needed the machine to keep her alive.

"I feel surprised that this has happened... This is not a ventilator at the intensive care level."

The machine just supported someone's ventilation rather than doing all the work for them, he said.

"People who are on this are capable of breathing for themselves... That is why we are surprised that she deteriorated and tragically died so soon after the support was withdrawn and we need to understand more about that."


What the Medical Officer is describing is what's known as a CPAP machine. It is NOT an oxygen machine, nor is it a ventilator. It sucks air in from the room and blows it out through a tube into a mask worn by a person suffering from sleep apnea. I have sleep apnea and I use the machine he described. Nobody wears one while awake and, if the machine should stop while sleeping, the person simply wakes up and breathes normally. It's only when sleeping that the air passages become too relaxed and need a boost to open them up and allow the breathed-in air to reach the lungs.

There's no way that this woman's death, during the day and so soon after the power being shut off, could have been caused by her CPAP not being used. I've had to repeatedly correct my own family and friends when they enquire about how I'm doing with my "oxygen machine" or "ventilator." It is neither of those things. This family wrongly reported to the press that the woman was on an oxygen machine and the press is going crazy spinning the story to make the electric company look wicked. I suspect she had a heart attack or stroke that coincidently occurred shortly after the power went out. An autopsy should clear that up.

I wonder if the family is merely trying to hide their own negligence by blaming the big bad electric company. The son didn't call an ambulance when he knew he should have. I have a marine battery to use as a backup in case of a power outage due to a storm. It can power my CPAP for up to 20 hours without recharging it. Why wasn't the family worried about a simple power outage, enough so to buy a backup battery? The power company had obviously sent notice upon notice to pay the overdue bills. Why would no one in that family chip in to pay for mother's past due bill?

Always be careful what you read: newspapers write articles to sell their papers. This is one case where the truth has been twisted way out of proportion.

Anonymous said...

Ok So the guy said he was just doing his job. But ignorance on his part. When they told him that she needed that electric to live, he should have called it in. Maybe had someone come out and investgate the problem. Why in the world would someone lie about a thing like that and even if they would be lying you are talking about a life ove 122.00. My electric bill is 400.00 and I am not on oxygen and they would allow me to pay payment for hard times.

Jeff Greathouse said...

I am not judging or condemning anyone ( this was not meant to slam an electric company for shutting of electricity ). I am just asking for and praying for a family that has lost a loved one.

4 children have lost a mother unexpectantly and they need to be lifted up. Wether the company was right/wrong does not enter into the equation - they they need to have love surrounding them.

Anonymous said...

Big bad power company ... poor little woman! As usual people blame the messenger. Hey, the fellow had a job to do and he did it. He's not a murderer. It's not his fault that they didn't pay the bill or ask for assistance before the power was cut off. People today think that life is a free ride and it's not. The only ones that are protected in this country are the desperately needy, the defenseless and the riffraff. If they have a problem, it's someone elses fault and "they" are to blame. I seriously doubt that the woman died because they cut off the electricity. Even if she did, whose fault is it? Hers and her family, that's who. How many people die in America every year because they have no health insurance at all or have insurance, but can't go to the doctor because they can't afford the co-pay? That lady at least was able to be treated at a hospital! Why should the public pay her electricity bill too? There are people on Medicaid that have free health care, such as it is. I think that Medicare/Medicaid is a great thing for those that need it, but it's not fair to the minimum wage earners. They have no insurance, but no one is shouting about the fact that they die every day! That is the true crime. It's a crime that elderly people eat peanut butter and oatmeal because they can't afford to buy healthy food and are not on "assistance." It's a crime that the energy companies and our goverment are letting soldiers die every day because of profit. It's a crime that the wealthiest country in the world spends billions minding other countries business, but can't provide for ir's own citizens or even win the "drug" war!The only "winners" in this war will be the corporations that will make huge profits. You can bet that their sons and daughters aren't fighting over there. It's not a crime for that electrical company worker to do his job! The newspapers love a story like this, they don't bother to get their facts straight, and love sensationalism. They should be reporting about the senselessness of sending young people to fight for a no win war with and against people that have always hated us. They should report about why America refused to pass a health care bill for all it's citizens. They should report about what's being done to fight crime, and what the government does to encourage it! They should report about why the government is about to let all the Mexican aliens become citizens, even though they will bring huge families here that the country will support. They could pay 30,000 dollars each and it won't even come close to what the government will spend to support them and fight the social ills that it will cause. America is a country that was supposed to be founded on liberty(except for the Indians and slaves) and freedom for all. Why do we pay Federal, State and Local taxes to support a government that doesn't care or listen to the majority of Americans? There are very few poor politicians! It is nauseating to think that people care more about a woman who died after getting her electricity cut off than about the reasons that people can't afford electricity here in the first place. The very rich seem to think that they somehow deserve their lavish lifestyle. The news is all about their mansions and wonderful lives. What percentage of Americans lives in the kind of homes that are seen in the "average" sitcoms? Those in power are so far removed from the needs of their constituents and they live in a fantasy world. The sad thing is that the "average" citizens let them get away with it. It's all about money. Sorry that I've diverged from this topic. Yes, we should pray for this woman's family, but we also need to be praying for this country and what it's become before it doesn't belong to us anymore, if it ever did?

Anonymous said...

yea this is too the guy with the sleep apnea whose freaking side are u on here a mother is DEAD.how the hell do u know her situation was the same just maybe u dont have all the facts.are u a doctor?what would happen if you're power went out at night?u must be a republican.yeah yeah ive got sleep ap too loose some weight jerk p.s.do u have medical ins.or are u on medicare so the rest of have to pay for it.AND I HAVE SEEN THE REST OF UR BLOGS SHUTOFF UR COMPUTER AND SHUTUP

Anonymous said...

"Big Bad Power Company"?? "Neglegent"? Somebody needs to get a clue about humanity and compassion. Ever lose a job due to illness? Ever fall behind on payments because you're down and out? I guess not. Apparently not having been there you have good reason to judge this deceased girl and the family she leaves behind. Oh, and by the way, I'd like to add PECO Energy to the list of greedy power companies on the globe.

Carol said...

I will pray for the family, esp. the children.
If this story turns out to be completely factual, I hope they charge someone at the electric company with murder, make the power give these orphans free electric for life, and train all employees not to shut off electric, for any reason, to people whom need it to stay alive. There is a bigger agenda here. It's called greed. I really don't care if the family were issued warnings that they were only $122 behind. Is that a reason to kill someone knowing full well they needed electric to stay alive. What is wrong with you people. Couldn't the electric company offer any assistance to a family whose mother lost her job to an illness. Listen up businesses - YOU DEAL WITH HUMAN BEINGS, AND STUFF HAPPENS, REAL STUFF. So you couldn't get $122 - deal with it. Your business doesn't really care about the fact that you deal with humans, you just want your money. There is more to life than just money - but not any more life for the woman you just murdered - now you will never get you $122. Are you going to write it off? Could you have done that before you killed her?

Dreaming again said...

Unless it says Cpap you don't know if it's Cpap or Bipap. Bipap is similar to a Cpap only instead of having one way pressure, it forces air in, and sucks the air out. It is an external respirator.

At this point, in my life ... we are looking at ... will my husband be strong enough to ever come home from the ICU ..and will he make it ... and if he does, will he be on the Bipap only at night, or will he have to be on it, continuously, at night.

Just like some people live continuously on ventilators with tracheotomy's ... some people, live at home, with Bipap machines to keep them alive. They might be on for 2 or 3 hours, and off for an hour or 2, but then they have to be on oxygen.

When the time to go back on the bipap comes, it MUST happen. They can deteriorate faster than you can possibly imagine. Oxygen alone is not enough.

I watched my husband go from awake and talking to unconscience in less than 5 minutes, because his blood gasses were so bad. Had the bipap machine not been right by his bed, he would not have survived another hour.

People ARE sent home in need of this eqipment ...every day.

Our question right now is not IF my husband will need the equipment when he comes home... but will he be ever able to come home ...and is he willing to live on the equipment.

Anonymous, do not be so quick to judge.

Anonymous said...

this is to the people who think they know what type of machine it was. was it a cpap which is continuous positive airway pressure, which keeps the airways open at exhaltion. good for people who have periods of apena while sleeping.which can be ran on air or with an oxygen bleed in. then there is bipap when is ipap and cpap together it boost the inhaltion and exhaltion of a person. therefore giving the a bigger tidal volume and also keeping the airways open at exhaltion. which is more like a ventilator then just cpap. then there are consentrator which pull in room air and pull the oxygen out for the person who needs O2 to live. the woman had cardio pulmonary problems ok meaning something to do with her heart and lungs. they had no right to cut off the ulities and maybe theyy will find a form that the family filled out but until then can find out who is wrong can you people stop the hatong

Anonymous said...

Dreamin' -I'm not sure about whether or not you were responding to my anonymous comment or not? Perhaps I am too quick to judge, as you said? If she did indeed die because of the electricity being cut off, then it is truly a horrible thing. Until the facts are out we don't have enough information to determine this particular case. It is sad that she died, no matter what the cause! I do however, have enough information to judge America's press and the issues confronting the treatment of America's people. The hand outs that started years ago promoted a dependant society that is irresponsible for their own actions. That is a fact, and is just one issue confronting us today. Yes, there are people that need help ... and they should get it, however there are many people that are totally dependent on the government because they don't have any skills and have learned to play the system. Until each of us is responsible for our own actions,this will not change. The other things that I mentioned before are all major concerns too. So sorry that you are having to face these horrible decisions. All of us will have to face situations like this in our lives, especially in this day of "life" sustaining medical ability. I faced this with several family members. It is so hard to do and you and your husband will be in my prayers, as will the family of this woman. I did not mean my comments to be a condemnation of her, but rather a confrontation of serious issues that got her to that point. No, this didn't happen here in America, but it easily could have. That was what I poorly attempted to discuss. I did not mean to sound uncompassionate and in fact am very much a caring person. Yes, I have had my electricity cut off, many times, as a child. We had our washing machine repossessed too, also a home and our car. My father was a medicaid patient who died of a curable kind of cancer that would probably have been cured had he not been on medicaid, but had private insurance. His choices were very limited. Every American deserves quality medical care. Every American should be able to make a living wage if they are able bodied. That isn't happening for most of our population. I was using this as an example of how the press sensationalizes an issue like this, but ignores the real culprets ... poverty and greed.

Jeff Greathouse said...

Out of this post has come a few comments with some great issues that we could be dealing with

- US economy
- Health Insurance

This patient was not in America but we can look in the mirror and discuss that - it is an issue that is EXTREMELY close to my heart.

It brings up an unbelievable struggle of what do you do when you have a severe medical condition and you have limited funds .. pay for medicine, pay for food, pay bills or .....

For the Anonymous posters. I have that has an option so people do not have to reveal themselves.

HOWEVER if you could sign it with an A, a B or "juistice" .. you choose ... it would help so we can address someone and if there are more than 1 anonymous ... people will know who is being addressed.

Anonymous said...

A family has lost a MOTHER.. over ELECTRICITY!! And whoever said she recieved Public Aid or Medicare.. She was employed as a school teacher. But regardless..the cost of a utility bill and $122.00 is no reason to fault her. Not everyone who is in the working class can afford the cost of an electric bill, let alone having an illness to prevent her from doing her job and not have an income to depend on.. For those of you who dont have a heart.. shut up and move on.. and as for Mr. SleepApnea...you just dont die from not using a CPAP.. 2hrs without O2 will KILL A PERSON in need.. You are a jerk. Maybe that manager of the electric company needs to take into account that there are some instances that someone cannot afford the bills sent.. and try to work with those who ARE EMPLOYED but struggling.. this makes me sick that people can sit here and bad mouth a dead woman.. and say stupid things.. How IGNORANT!

Ben said...

This will soon be a normal thing here in the US the cost of electricity is going to skyrocken and wages are going down. People lose good paying job and have to settle for a lower paying jobs and many are losing there homes over time not just their electricity these were normal things in the depression years when I crew up.This time it is the globalisation that going to hurt us in the future

Anonymous said...

Counties Manukau Chief Medical Officer Don Mackie needs his head examined for I was sent home using oxygen myself 24/7 no exceptiopns!! It's the only thing keeping me alive!! I'm going through the same thing as I write this with my utility company. They want to shut my power off as well.