Investigating the Salmonella Investigation

Source 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 America.

By Dana Wachter

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, Virginia.
  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 different story.
    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 Brian Center.
    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 wrong.
    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 license.
    “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 America.

 

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