Family testifies against hospital
by Courtney Stevens
Oct 16, 2013 | 5033 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The sound of sniffling carried throughout the courtroom Tuesday morning as the trial for Willie Bea Taylor against Delta Regional Medical Center continued with testimonies from the Taylor family.

Lakenray Taylor, 20, of Gunnison was shot in the chest by a single bullet on the County Court Square sidewalk of Main Street in Rosedale on July 5, 2003, between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Taylor and her team of lawyers, Attorney Jim Collins and Attorney Helen Morris, believe that as a trauma two center that claims to offer the services of a cardiovascular surgeon in their regulations, should have one within the hospital walls, especially on a holiday weekend.

A level two trauma center is only one step down from the most sophisticated level of trauma centers, that being level one.

DRMC 's law team defends the hospital by saying that the trauma program was a voluntary program in 2003 and at the time DRMC applied to be a part of it, the standards and regulations required many specialized doctors that Attorney Carl Hagwood said, "Delta Regional does not have and has never had."

"I can’t tell you the last July we had and it was a happy July," said Annie Taylor, the younger sister of Lakenray Taylor on Tuesday morning to the court.

When Willie Bea Taylor, mother of Lakenray Taylor, took the stand, she recounted the events of that evening.

According to Taylor, a former nurse supervisor at DRMC and a part time nurse at DRMC at the time of her son's death, she was notified by the police while in Rosedale, and then drove to DRMC where her son was to be transported by ambulance.

On her way to DRMC Taylor said she called Ella Sweet, the nursing supervisor at the time, and said it was necessary that she activate the trauma team.

Upon arrival, Taylor was not permitted to see her son while the hospital staff stabilized him.

"That's when my nightmare began," said Taylor.

Taylor was told that if she went back to the ER against hospital orders, she would be removed from the premises.

"I said 'let me in, I can help as a nurse,'" said Taylor.

It wasn't until about two hours later that Taylor was allowed to see her son and it was then she only saw two people in the room caring for her child, a nurse and a respiratory therapist.

Taylor said her son had goosebumps on his arms and his fingers were white due to him lapsing into hypothermia. It was then that she began to apply pressure to the IV bag to initiate more fluids and called for a Bair Hugger, forced air-warming technology, to warm him.

"I immediately jumped in … I started grieving as a mother. I said 'momma's here, baby, but momma's got to do some work," said Taylor.

Taylor asked why the cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Hugh Gamble, had not been called, to which she was told that everyone was out of town.

"The first person I called was Dr. Dotson," said Taylor.

Renee Dotson was the trauma director of DRMC at the time and arrived minutes later to offer her assistance.

"I told Dr. Dotson, 'look I need you in this room,' and she went in and started working … there was one nurse in the room," said Taylor.

It was then that Taylor called Gamble at home.

"He immediately answered the phone," said Taylor. Despite being irritated at being woken up at such a time and not being on call, Gamble told Taylor to have the general surgeon Alan Billsby call him and he would be there.

Gamble questioned Taylor as to why Billsby had not called him sooner and Taylor said she did not know.

"I found Dr. Billsby in the doctor's lounge and asked would he call Dr. Gamble and in about 15 minutes Dr. Gamble was in the room fussing and throwing his charts — he was devasted like I was devastated. He said 'why wasn't I called? This young man has a spider's web chance now,'" said Taylor.

Taylor said according to Gamble, the only reason her son had survived that long was because he had been in such good health.

"My life was flipped upside down. Every day I wake up I miss him and I feel like I failed him," said Taylor.

Taylor also said that it would have been faster for her son to be taken to Clarksdale as it was closer to Rosedale, where he was shot, and he would have been closer to The Med, a trauma 1 center, but she chose Greenville because she was under the impression that a cardiovascular surgeon would be on the premises to treat her son.

"A lot of hospitals depended on DRMC to be the eye in the sky," said Taylor.

Taylor believes that the hospital should have alerted EMS that the cardiovascular surgeon was not on duty that weekend so patients could be diverted to a different hospital if necessary.

DRMC CEO J. Stansel Harvey was brought in by the defendant, Attorney Carl Hagwood to be an expert witness and discuss why the hospital did not have a cardiovascular surgeon on the premises that night.

Harvey explained that the hospital having been built in 1958, the board was using funds to repair and replace the deteriorated facility and therefore did not have the funds to staff all of the doctors included in the guidelines set by the department of health.

"It would be impossible for the board to bring in physicians that aren't in demand," said Harvey.

Had specific specialists been required in 2003, including cardiovascular surgeons, Harvey said "We would not be able to meet a mandate like that."

"We have a difficult enough time recruiting physicians to the Delta anyway," said Harvey.

The defense team will continue to attempt to prove that because the trauma program was voluntary at the time, it was not necessary to have a cardiovascular surgeon on the premises, or to have EMS diverted to other hospitals because of this.

When cross-examined, Morris, lawyer representing Taylor had Harvey review the list of services offered by DRMC's trauma program.

After reading the list, which included cardiovascular surgeons and services, Morris asked "It's doesn’t said we offer these services sometimes, does it?"

Harvey said the patient would need to be assessed by a qualified physician before it being determined that a cardiovascular surgeon would be necessary.

The cardiovascular surgeon Hugh Gamble will take the stand on Wednesday morning to shed more light on the procedures of the trauma program within his position, and to explain what happened that evening.

The Bolivar Commercial will have more as the story develops.