Investigating the Salmonella
of Article: http://www.tricities.com/tri/news/local/article/investigating_the_salmonella_investigation/29208/
Lab reports came back in
January, stating that Hester Fields had the same strand of salmonella
connected to the nationwide outbreak linked to the Peanut Corporation of
Published: July 21, 2009
Weber City, Va.— This
past fall and winter, tainted peanut butter led to salmonella related
illnesses across the country.
A number of the victims and their families are suing the
Peanut Corporation of America, the maker of the product in question.
One of the salmonella deaths: Kingsport resident, Hester Fields.
She died while a patient at The Brian Center in Weber City,
In January, lab tests determined it was the same strand of
salmonella connected to the nationwide outbreak.
The Virginia Department investigated and based on information
from the nursing home, decided that Fields’ death was isolated and not
related to food served by the Brian Center.
The former head nurse there says otherwise.
11 connects obtained the inspection documents from Parke
Morris, Hester Fields’ family attorney.
According to the report, the Brian Center was very
cooperative through the investigation. The Virginia State Health Department
spoke to the administrator of the Brian Center who said Fields did not like
the food so the daughter brought in food a lot.
But 11 Connects spoke to that daughter, and she had a
Jeannie Fields said she did not bring her mom food to the
nursing home. She said sometimes she would buy food from the vending
machine, but mostly, she ate peanut butter crackers and sandwiches from the
That’s not the only discrepancy. Another question: just
how many patients at the Brian Center got sick?
When the health department asked the Brian Center, the report
says “staff denies any other problems with other patients regarding
symptoms of salmonella.“
However, Morris and his private investigator said they found
that Betsy Marsh, the director of nursing at the time, and the person in
charge of all medical happenings, knew of several other sick residents and
employees and even instituted an infection control plan. She said she had
the same symptoms, too.
“When we went through to do this infection control survey,“
says Marsh, “it was all over the facility.“
But Marsh says, at the time, she didn’t know what “it” was.
So when she got a call from the Scott County Health
Department about a salmonella death in her facility, she knew something was
Marsh said, “I went to the facility administrator, completely
shocked, and said, did you know this resident had salmonella?“
According to Marsh, the response from nursing home
administrator Vickie Cox shocked her even more. “What was being told to me
was,“ says Marsh, “it’s Friday, drag your feet on it, and maybe they won’t
remember by Monday.“
Marsh resigned, not wanting to jeopardize her nursing
“I felt as though there shoulda been a more direct action
taken.“ said Marsh, “and there was concern for the family, and the well
being of the resident that this possibly could have happened to, that I
still had no information on, and concern for myself as the director of
nursing, that this information did not make it to me.“
Via phone conversation, Brian Center administrator Vickie Cox
told 11 Connects she did nothing wrong and that the state health
department’s report clears the facility of any salmonella outbreak.
But according to attorney Parke Morris, too many questions
have yet to be answered about the death of Hester Fields.
“Our goal is to find out what happened,“ says Morris, “because
you know, Jeannie wants to know. She wants to know the truth.“
The Brian Center in Weber City, Virginia has not been accused
of any wrong-doing, and as of today, the family of Hester Fields has not
filed a lawsuit against anyone other than the Peanut Corporation of