Governor Jeb Bush Sides With Terri Schiavo Nurse in State Complaint

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 14, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Governor Jeb Bush Sides With Terri Schiavo Nurse in State Complaint Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 14, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Governor Jeb Bush is siding with a nurse who cared for Terri Schiavo during the mid 1990s and helped expose her former husband’s mistreatment of her. The Florida Department of Health wants to revoke Carla Sauer-Iyer’s license over an interview she gave CNN last March about how Michael Schiavo failed to care for and mistreated Terri.

However, Bush says the information she discussed in the interview was already public record in the ongoing lawsuit between Michael and Terry’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler.

"The governor feels the actions taken against Sauer-Iyer are not justified and hopes that the complaint will be reconsidered and dismissed," Bush spokesman Russell Schweiss wrote in an e-mail to the St. Petersburg Times. "She did not disclose any information which was not already public."

On Thursday, the Florida Department of Health asked the Board of Nursing to dismiss its complaint against Sauer-Iyer.

The nursing board had originally proposed a one-sided deal by which Sauer-Iyer would relinquish her nursing license and pay nearly $1,700 in administrative fees. Her attorney responded by requesting an administrative hearing on the matter and no date has yet been set for it.

Sauer-Iyer, who is employed at the Palm Garden of Largo Convalescent Center, filed an affidavit for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his attempts to help Terri’s parents prevent Terri’s death.

Sauer-Iyer said that, after one visit by Michael in Terri’s room for 20 minutes with the door shut, Sauer-Iyer found Terri lethargic and "crying hysterically." She checked Terri’s blood sugar levels and they were barely showing any reading on the glucometer, she indicated. She also saw a vial of "insulin concealed in the trash bin."

She indicated there were needle marks underneath Terri’s breast, under her arms, and in her groin area.

However, in an interview with the Associated Press, Michael, who has been in Colorado to raise money for candidates who favor assisted suicide and euthanasia, blasted Bush.

"This is America. The governor is entitled to be wrong again," he said. "What Carla did is wrong, and what the governor is doing to protect her is wrong. Why does he want to help people who lie?"

Sauer-Iyer told AP she was "glad but not surprised" to hear that Bush was taking her side "since he was instrumental in trying to save Terri’s life."

The nursing board began its efforts to revoke Sauer-Iyer’s license after a Massachusetts woman filed a complaint with the agency after she watched Sauer-Iyer’s CNN interview.

She filed the complaint last March, the day after the interview, saying Iyer made "inflammatory remarks" regarding Michael Schiavo.

Iyer’s attorney’s have filed papers saying the information Iyer discussed in the CNN interview was a matter of public record at the time.

Iyer explained in an August 2003 affidavit for Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler that that Michael would complain when staff would take care of her or feed her. He would also refused to provide her with any rehabilitative treatment.

"[T]hat’s therapy — take that washcloth out," he would tell Iyer.

She said, "it was clear to me at Palm Garden that all decisions regarding Terri Schiavo were made by Michael Schiavo with no allowances made for any discussion, debate or normal professional judgment. My initial training there consists solely of the instruction, ‘Do what Michael Schiavo tells you or you will be terminated.’"

"Very few of us were allowed to see Terri," she said. However, she saw enough of Terri to know that she was not in a persistent vegetative state.

Iyer said one of the problems in the long legal battle between Michael and the Schindlers had been courts not fully investigating every complaint and concern.

"That’s been the problem the whole time — [presiding] Judge Greer not looking into all the evidence," Iyer said last year.

Iyer said she has never been interviewed by any of the judges considering Terri’s case.

"None of us were able to testify," she said, referring to fellow nurses Heidi Law and Carolyn Johnson, who both filed affidavits to confirm Iyer’s contention that Michael withheld medical care and rehabilitative treatment and may have tried to take his wife’s life.

In the affidavit, Iyer contends Michael repeatedly asked hospice staff when Terri was going to die, with demeaning questions such as "When is that bitch gonna die?"

Iyer was ultimately fired from her position after filing a police report regarding the insulin incident. She cared for Terri from April 1995 through August 1996.

Related web sites:
Iyer’s affidavit
Terri Schiavo’s parents –