A woman whose struggles with addiction touched President Barack Obama died on March 3. Some have blamed medical incompetence for her death. Her parents are now working to create a law to prevent similar deaths.
Jessica Grubb, 36, daughter of former West Virginia state Sen. David Grubb, became addicted to heroin and opioids after she was sexually assaulted while attending the University of North Carolina at Asheville, The Huffington Post reports.
But what claimed her life wasn’t the heroin.
Jessica was prescribed 50 pills of oxycodone, an opioid pain medication, after undergoing an unrelated surgery. She left the hospital with an IV port in her arm, making it easy for her to pump the medication straight into a vein.
“So I called [the surgeon] and I asked him point-blank, did you know that she was a recovering addict? And there was kind of a long pause and he said no. He had no idea,” David said.
“Jesse still had that addict’s brain,” he added. “I think it was just too much temptation for her to resist.”
Her father and several senators are now looking into creating “Jessie’s Law,” which would prevent doctors from accidentally prescribing opioids to addicts.
The family also has created a memorial fund in honor of Jessica.
“In addition to fighting for greater awareness on the part of health care professionals (and for "Jessie's Law" to require such information be prominently and conspicuously displayed on medical records), this memorial fund will also be used to assist in something extremely important to Jessica: the establishment of an intentional, residential living environment for her younger sister, Emma (who is autistic) and other adults with developmental disabilities,” they wrote on YouCaring.
Obama sent a personal letter to the Grubb family upon hearing the news of her death.
“Your willingness to share your family’s story left a powerful impression on me and has helped accelerate efforts to deal with this national epidemic of addiction,” he wrote.
David recounted the story on live stream to Obama in October 2016. It left a powerful impact on the president. Since then, he has repeatedly spoke about the heroin and opioid epidemic, often mentioning Grubb.
Before Grubb became an addict living on-and-off at various rehab centers, she had a promising future ahead of her.
“She was an incredible achiever, she made straight-As, she was smart as a whip, involved in social change,” her father said.