Experience at Local Hospital Leads to Letter to the Editor

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Medical Feature

[Note: Image used by H.p.frei via Wikimedia Commons]

To the Community:
I recently had a very bad experience at the emergency room of the hospital in Willits and would like to warn others of a few things of which to be aware.

When you are admitted to the emergency room you are required to sign a form authorizing medical care and advising you of your rights and of your non-rights. I signed, of course, but did not read anything as I was in distress and was in no shape to drive on to another hospital. I made the mistake of believing I would receive proper care at Frank Howard, Jr. Memorial Hospital — OR, if they felt they could not provide me proper care, they would arrange a transfer to another facility that could provide me with the care I required.

Howard Memorial (also known as Adventist Health Howard Memorial, part of a huge chain now, not just a little country business) informs you in their admissions forms that the doctors and other staff that treat you may not be employees of the hospital. They are independent contractors who are just renting space in the hospital and they (Howard) are not responsible for the quality of care you may receive.

The problem is, who is responsible when something goes wrong, as it did in my case, and what motivation does Howard have to hire good, and dump bad, doctors? On other occasions, I have received very good care at Howard. But on this occasion, I was not so fortunate.

This is not the place to go into details, but the short story is that the physician who treated me in the Howard ER had no idea what to do for my medical circumstances, but proceeded to “treat” me, anyway. She did not stop a procedure when I told her that I was in tremendous pain and that what she was doing was wrong. I have had this procedure before, so I knew what I was talking about. But she would listen and she would not stop and the eventual result, after it was no longer possible for her to deny she had no idea what she was doing, was a $5000 ambulance transfer to another hospital in Santa Rosa which had properly trained staff available to deal with my medical needs. Once there, I required emergency surgery to correct the damage done in the Willits ER and stayed two nights in the hospital until I was strong enough to be discharged. Total billed charges for this “event” are now in the six-figure range, and I continue to have problems and require occasional treatment.

Because of how medical practitioners and providers are protected under California laws, it is very difficult to bring suit unless you are very young and have suffered enormous loss of earning capacity, or are damaged severely enough to have guaranteed major expenses for custodial care and treatment the remainder of your life. It has to be millions of dollars, or no lawyer is going to take the time to represent you. I cannot sue the hospital even though they made the decision to allow the treating “physician” to practice there because of the contracts I signed upon admission to the ER. The “doctor” who treated me is also not a preferred provider for my insurance — although the hospital is. Our insurance paid her anyway, as if she was “preferred,” and the person I spoke to said this is a common problem in rural hospitals and our insurance will pay the treating physician if the facility is a preferred one, “as a courtesy to their subscribers.” They are under no legal obligation to do this. So, maybe your insurance will pay, or maybe they will not, and it is unlikely that you will be able to figure this out when you arrive at the emergency room. But, even if you do know, what are your choices when you need emergency medical care? One should be able to trust that a hospital makes some effort to have qualified physicians available to treat patients when they present for care, or have alternative plans to make certain their medical needs are met.

It is very unfortunate, but my advice to anyone with the ability to do so is to go to another medical facility for emergency care. Until Howard gets procedures in place which require patients to be transferred when on-site staff is not trained to deal with their medical problems, being treated in their ER may well lead to greater medical problems than brought you into the ER in the first place. If you absolutely need to go there, try and have someone else with you who can monitor what is being done and help get you to another facility if it becomes obvious that they are not being responsive to your needs and/or are completely ignoring your rights as a patient. When someone is screaming in pain because a procedure is being done incorrectly, the proper medical response is not just to continue what is being done, but use greater physical force.

If your circumstances do make suing Howard Memorial a possibility because of something that was done by someone other than a non-employee contractor, be advised that it will be almost impossible to find out the name of the Agent for Service of Process. You will not find Adventist Health Howard Memorial or anything like that registered with the Secretary of State. I’m sure they have a very good reason for being listed as Willits Hospital Inc. My only recourse at this point is to sue the treating physician, Michella Sheppherd, in Small Claims Court to try and recover my out-of-pocket costs. We are fortunate that our insurance has covered the vast majority of the expenses at both hospitals and for the ambulance transfer. If we did not have insurance, we would be responsible for the entire amount with virtually no legal recourse. Small Claims actions are limited to $10,000, maximum. Spencer Chase



  • This is a ridiculous article. Doctors are legally prohibited from being employed directly by a hospital in California, so if the argument here is that the hospital should be doing so, the author is advocating for something that is illegal. It’s hard to tell if the author actually received substandard care due to the vague descriptions and complete lack of details, but if so, there’s absolutely nothing stopping them from taking legal action and plenty of people do so everyday in this state.

    • Thank you for the info on the CA law. Funny that no one mentioned this to me before. I did find confirmation of it online. However it seems that in urban areas there are medical groups that offer services to doctors which can probably be held accountable.

      Also I visited the same hospital a few months earlier via the emergency room because I did not have a primary care doctor. The doctor I saw in the emergency room was excellent. She is affiliated with some sort of medical group that appears to be very closely linked to the hospital. I do not know anything about the details of the relationship. Her office is located at the hospital and I am pretty sure that she is part of a medical group that is a subsidiary of the same Adventists Health that owns the hospital. The doctor wh treated me the second time is a completely independent contractor.

      There is something stopping people from taking legal action against doctors. A law enacted in the 70s limits the amount you can sue for medical practice of other than out of pocket expenses. It is limited to $50,000. So in my case, insurance paid all of the $100,000 except of about $5000 that i had to pay. With the limit of $50,000 for pain and suffering at $50,000 and only $5000 out of pocket, there is no way that a lawyer will take the case for $55,000.

      Also, the chance of winning a medical malpractice suit in California and Mendocino county specifically is extremely low.

      I intentionally did not give details because I did not feel it was the place to do so. If anyone is interested I will give all the details they want.

    • to make one thing clear. although i was not aware of the prohibition of hospitals hiring doctors, i did not suggest that they should. i was only pointing out the facts that the doctor may not be paid (or paid less) by your insurance even if you make it a point to choose an in network hospital. and that you have no recourse against the hospital even though they choose the doctors who practice at their hospital. when you head to the emergency room you are not likely to be thinking about these issues and and i guarantee you that few people are in the state of mind to read and evaluate the forms they are required to sign.

      among the papers i was given was a “patient’s bill of rights” which clearly stated that the doctor was required to listen to my concerns and to stop treatment if i objected. she didn’t and insisted that she was right and treated me as a specimen not a human being.

  • What is just as bad is when go to a rural health center and are the victim of malpractice. When you try to file small claims against them, and they just laugh at you, and tell you to sue the Feds… we’re protected by Tort Law…

  • I’ve had two surgeries a Howard Memorial Hospital. I must say that it is, in my onion, the finest hospital I have ever been in.

  • Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for sharing your sad experience. This is important information we need to know.

  • You can always call and report this doctor individually to the California Medical Board. They are required to investigate/follow up on complaints made by patients. I’m sorry this happened to you.

    • i did file with the california medical board. they are supposed to investigate but they do not report the findings to the patient.

  • Our extended family has had a few very bad experiences at Howard emergency room, mostly from neglect, several from wrong treatments which could have ended very badly. There are some excellent staff at HMH ER, but there are just as many bad apples. We now travel on to Ukiah, when at all possible.

  • If you think Howard is bad, try Garberville.

  • Yes, it’s true the forms you must sign to be treated absolve the hospital and all working there of any malpractice suits…if you won’t sign you don’t get seen, if you sign you can’t sue….

  • If you had the same procedure in the past and knew she was doing it wrong , why wouldn’t you stop her immediately and ask for another doctor? Simple, you are as much to blame as the doctor, you went to that hospital, and signed a form without reading it,then watched the doctor treat you wrong knowingly, too many meds? Drunk? High?

    • Everyone should know that your rights continue beyond signing the consent to treat. All patients have the right to informed consent and if this person told the doctor to stop, she should have stopped. I have also had this experience with an Adventist hospital, fortunately with plenty of witnesses. Not sure I’m ready for a letter to the editor though. We’ll see how the medical board and other avenues play out.

    • Maybe reread the letter?

      • Reread it, still see where the patient didn’t stop the doctor when she knew the doctor was in the wrong,and let the doctor cause damage to her , not sure why anyone would allow this, I guess if you assume the doctor is always right , but if you assume this you are a fool, that health insurance really came in handy, just cost her a ton of more problems

        • [edit] you don’t read anything. i mentioned that i told the doctor to stop several times. i was in distress. i had a Foley catheter shoved (and i mean shoved with great force) through my urethra into my prostate and she was insisting on inflating the balloon. it was a three way cath and was supposed to be flushing my bladder. nothing was coming out the return line. the doctor insisted that she keep trying. i kept saying that if nothing was coming out then the cath was not in my bladder. she agrees to inflate only partially to stop me from screaming. there are standard procedures for catheter insertion and verification of placement. excess force is prohibited and inflation of the balloon should never be attempted without knowing if the balloon is in the bladder. if the patient complains of pain, the inflation should be immediately stopped. if force is needed to place the cath the process should be stopped and a urologist called. i have documents form several medical centers describing the standard procedures that this doctor did everything wrong. i have consulted with my urologist and explained in detail what i said what was done etc etc and he agrees that she did everything wrong.

          i was treated for prostate cancer and had extensive radiation leaving my prostate as largely scar tissue incapable of healing normally. i explained all this to the ER doctor so she should have been especially carefully or should have immediately sent me to someone who knew what they were doing (a urologist) when she could not easily insert the catheter. when i was in the ER i had not yet done days and days of research to know exactly what proper catheter insertion protocol was. i was trusting the doctor to know and she didn’t.

          it did not increase my confidence to hear the doctor and the nurses online trying to figure out what to do but i was in pain and was bleeding profusely through the catheter (to the extent that the clotting blood would flow through it) and was not really in a positioning to get up and tell the doctor to fuck off. I was just hoping that they would figure out what to do. Every time the doctor inflated the balloon and i felt intense sharp pain like someone sticking a knife into my stomach i screamed and said that the balloon was not in my bladder and that it hurt. I have a very high tolerance for pain. i am also an engineer and know a bit about fluid dynamics. i told the doctor many times that she was wasting her time trying to get the flushing to work because the balloon was not in my bladder.

          there are several other things that the doctor did wrong on the first visit before she did the gross catheter damage on the second. at first they inserted a smaller catheter and discharged me to go home (1.5 hours at 2 am or so) bleeding profusely and clogging the catheter. i was watching the two nurses who were cringing and looking like they very much wanted to leave. one nurse was massaging the catheter tube trying to get the blood clots to pass through and was looking at me with a concerned and helpless look in her eyes. i’m sure she was amazed that i was released in this condition. i went to a motel and soon realized that i could not sleep or go home and needed to return to the hospital. i never should have been discharged in this condition. i was discharged with instructions to make an appointment with the local urologist who was on vacation and would not return for over a week. this is how you send a bleeding patient home? give me a fucking break!!!

          i can tell from your comments (Lone ranger) that you think you are so fucking perfect that you would be able to be in intense pain trapped in a hospital at 2 am not knowing what the fuck was happening and have the ability to calmly analyze the situation and tell everyone exactly what to do. maybe you should work in the ER helping poor little mortals like me deal with the system.

          if i had been a super human like Lone Ranger, i should have realized that i needed to go to a real hospital and should have consulted with my staff to find an appropriate one and should have driven myself the 1.5 hours in spite of the fact that blood and urine were dripping out my penis around the catheter. I was also having bladder spasms which would have made the trip a real joy.

    • Have you ever needed emergency services?
      Usually a patient is down to one nerve.
      It sounds like she did speak up. Did you expect her to wrestle the person to the floor, who did not listen to her, and was making poor choices.

      I have a BIG problem with some comments on Kym’s blog; especially comments from someone who doesn’t have the decency to use their own name, while inferring that someone is drunk, or a using drugs, with absolutely NO facts to back up their statement.

      At the very least, pick a name other than Lone Ranger…he was a good guy who would show up when needed, help someone, or the community, and ride off into the sunset.
      Perhaps you are Alone; but that does not make you the Lone Ranger.

      • I have a BIG problem with people like this that don’t use their head and think logically, but allow mistakes to be made on themselves then sue doctors and establishments so that everyone else can pay outrageous health insurance premiums to cover that person’s multimillion dollar lawsuit that they gave 60 percent of to sum bottom feeder attorney, again , simple

        • [edit] you say “people like this that don’t use their head and think logically, but allow mistakes to be made on themselves” i was in fucking distress experiencing pain that i would only wish on someone like you . i suppose that when i had the repair surgery i should have asked that they not anesthetize me so i could keep a watch on the surgeon and not allow him to make mistakes on me.

        • The maximum a person can get under California law for pain and suffering from medical malpractice is $250,000. The maximum under California law a lawyer can claim is 35%. Also, because of distances and hostile juries, to sue in this end of the world, your chances of finding a medical malpractice lawyer, unless you were hideously deformed or died, is effectively ZERO, no matter how valid your claim. Do your research before you parrot bogus information.

        • Troll much?. Go back under your bridge! Think this guy has suffered enough without you baiting him….

        • Which is why this:
          NO CO PAYS
          DO IT NOW

          • Medicare has deductibles, sizable copays, premiums, limited coverage, lots of red tape. And you had to pay into for decades before getting to use it at all. Even the highly subsidized Medicare Advantage has limited access and/or provider networks.

            This whole thread is about the damage to our area created by excessive government health plans. They are affordable to the government only because the government can then tell you what care you get or don’t get. Better than nothing for those with nothing but an awful change for those who had something. You won’t find government employees stuck with it.

    • Really? Since when does a patient have the responsibility to prevent malpractice? It is rampant up here. Patients and their families are significantly impacted when the standard of cate is reckless.
      Taking legal action is very difficult because of the caps and horrible antiquated laws. The experience he described is definitely negligence and potentially an assualt. The patient has the right to refuse any procedure. The Physician needs to be reprimanded and an investigation needs to occur.

  • I told the doctor repeatedly that she was causing considerable pain and asked her to stop. There was no other doctor, it was around midnight. I was in considerable pain and not thinking my best. You are obviously a superior human being who is capable of making difficult decisions under duress and taking complete control of the situation. I have respect for doctors and generally feel that they know a lot more about medical procedures than I do and it was difficult to question what she was doing but when the pain was severe and the procedure was not working at all I repeated several times that she need to stop and she didn’t. Again I will give all the details of what was done to me if people want and if it is appropriate.

    I love your assumption that I was drunk or high. I was neither, just experiencing a lot of pain but it seems that would not be a problem for a manly stud like yourself.

  • Letters to the Editor should be signed. It’s very poor form for Red Headed Black Belt to make a soap box available for someone to make such serious accusations without requiring that individual’s name to be published as part of those accusations. There are two sides to every story, although unlikely that the hospital or the physician would ever respond because of HIPAA concerns.

    • I submitted the letter for publication and supplied my name to the editor. It was not my decision to not publish my name. If you look at any of my replies (still might be under moderation) you will see my name clearly shown in bold letters. I used my real name in the replies unlike most of the others who replied. What about “Joe” and “Lone Ranger” who belittled my letter without giving their real names?

      • Spencer, removing your name was my error, not my intention. I put it on the letter but somehow when I was formatting I must have deleted it. I re-added it.

      • I didn’t ask for names and nor do I care to know your name, I was just commenting on the information given, and pointing out BIG mistakes that were made.

    • Can you read? Clearly signed, troll.

  • “this is not the place to go into details”

    I’m afraid a letter of such complaint IS the place to go into details, otherwise I can’t help but wonder how legitimate your six-figure mistake is. Sorry, but every health care facility has logs of complaints online, as I’ve come to recently learn looking into facilities. Hard to know who knows what about who did what to whom.

    • I’m pretty sure the author meant that it’s not the place to go into PRIVATE details that are confidential between s/he and the doctors.

    • I am putting together the records so i have just looked at the Explanations of Benefit summary from my insurance company and the total billed to insurance is over $100,000. i believe that is 6 figures. Just the ambulance charge was $5000, the surgeon $3000, the hospital something like $50,000 Anesthesia another $3000. then a huge number of miscellaneous charges and the follow up treatment by my urologist for over $7000 (cystoscopy etc etc)so far. Amazing how little thousand dollar charges do add up when there are dozens and dozens of them. One procedure i would like to try on the Lone Ranger is urethral dilation. It would give me great pleasure.

    • Sounds like you know it all, including the details of his ER visit.

  • That is so messed up. I hope you a speedy recovery in every area requiring recovery.
    Hey, look on the bright side. If you didn’t have a good ins program, you’d be on single payer where the waiting period for such treatment can be as long as up to 3 years. You’re ahead of the herd.
    Get well soon.

  • I was severely injured at the willits rodeo in 1973, the treatment for my injuries possibly saved my life. I was transported to Santa Rosa memorial and underwent 18 hrs of emergency surgery that night and another 16 hr surgery the following Sunday.

    My treatment was top shelf and I chose to remain in the care of those fine physicians for the following year and a half.

    My hat’s off to those folk and I’d hope the care has gotten better and not worse.

    • It’s a shame that one person can overshadow the wonderful care received day in and day out by Howard Hospital. I have had several family members cared for at Howard with amazing results. This was both in the ER and in the regular part of the hospital. Probably need more info before we can believe everything we read.

      • Claims of assault by a doctor need to be heard by the community! Victims need to be protected and heard, not doctors. Too many doctors put on that white coat and think it gives them the power to overpower everyone in their care. Those who are unable to hear patients telling them to STOP need to lose their licenses and not be protected by big corporate hospitals.

    • Santa Rosa Memorial (St Josephs) is where thy fixed what Shepphard fucked up. Only wish i had gone there first. Also had follow up treatment in Ukiah which was good. Best doctor of all is Andrea McCollough and she is at Howard. If she had been on call that night I’m sure i would have avoided a lot of torture. She is a wonderful person and doctor and is now my primary care doctor when in the area. It is tough for a rural hospital to attract good doctors but it is possible.

      We need to figure out a way to prevent money grabbing corporations such as Adventists Health from forcing sub standard health care on us. If their hospital can not provide the necessary services, send the patient where they can.

      In the past I also had a serious accident which required my transport to Redding where my life was saved by a fine neuro surgeon. If she had not been on call, someone else as capable probably would have been. If they had sent me to Howard they would probably have dicked around until i was dead.

      • groba dude osnt trustafarian

        What we can say about bad doctors is, their worst mistakes are usually buried. I have a different view of Dr. McCullough, but that’s another story. Doctor Sheppard, is trying, but seems to be the model for Adventist Health, a physician who orders every test, every x-ray, every procedure, no matter the cost, before deciding she does not know what to do. Then the patient is transferred, admitted, or the patient goes home AMR. These physicians are probably somewhat better than having none at all, but only just…

        I have seen these doctors in practice. They are something to watch…

        Patients, on the other hand, tend to be pretty out of control themselves, on the North Coast! Patients in this area are incredibly demanding, emotional and needy, and have a tendency to engage at the slightest stimulus! A dangerous proposition for an ER doc indeed!

        Too often, the level of suspicion and hostility on either side of the ER equation, results in a standoff, especially if the patient is “in pain”. “Pain” visits to the ER cause a clog in medical services beyond any imagination, and so many people show up at the ER when they should have been seen in a clinic, that it is amazing ANY provider possesses the focus to recognize and treat the “real” emergencies that arrive in the middle of the “frequent flier pain patients”.

        Not that the above correspondent didn’t need care, or that he wasn’t having an emergency… Someone’s perception of the appropriate method of care may not match the assessment of a medical provider. The above individual should have requested a transfer to a facility where he could have received “better” care!

        Acute urinary tract pain can be very serious, and can seem life threatening. Howard Hospital should have been able to assess and treat this condition, without delay, especially in an older patient who has a history of these problems.

        The best thing we can say about the above patient, is that his case is complicated. I would advise him to get to his regular providers, if at all possible, and not stop off in Willits!

  • I’ve been a patient at the hospital many times as have my family members and have gotten great care. Better than anywhere we’ve ever gotten anywhere else.

    I’ve known the hospital to have high standards for its people including the doctors regardless if they are employed or not. What bothers me with this letter is that it’s so damaging to the hospital who has no recourse to defend itself due to privacy laws. Obviously if you have valid grounds, you would have sued by now. This just sounds more like a smear campaign than a valid complaint. I’d say there’s always two sides to the story. Too bad the other side can’t say much.

    • Most lawyers will not sue rural hospitals for exactly this reason…it’s impossible to get an unbiased jury who will discipline a community doctor. I understand why this community member chose this route.

      While I’m glad you’ve always received great care, I think it is so very important that we listen to this message. This person was assaulted under the “care” of a doctor when they were their most vulnerable. That doctor should not be practicing.

      • Without all the details, can we really know who did wrong here? We’re supposed to believe everything this person said and use trial by publicity?

      • Thank you , this is why I am bothering with all of this. I am not a drunk dope addict prescription drug user as “Lone Ranger” assumes. I am a skilled engineer who makes a decent wage when working and if I added up all the time i spent on this issue I could probably have made more by working than by suing in small claims court.

        I am more concerned about others who do not have the benefit one one of the best health insurance plans available in California. I have Blue Cross through UCSF which costs a fortune but does little things like not charging me more for out of network contractors at rural hospitals. I am also partly retired so I have the time to pursue addressing wrongs. Most people don’t have these luxuries and get screwed by corporations like Adventists Health which are only concerned with maximizing Profits.

        As funky as it was years ago, Howard Memorial was probably a safer place to go before Adventists took over.

    • I complained to the Howard Hospital’s appropriate department and to the California Medical Board. These are both one way streets. I have had excellent treatment at Howard although the average is pretty bad. One experience has left a lasting impression. One of the best doctors I had had the privilege of being treated by is at Howard.

      I have spent a lot of time researching and asking opinions of doctor and lawyer friends as well as other friends. I am trying to not obsess on this too much. I have a psychologist I am now seeing to deal with this and she thinks that what i suffered is pretty severe and that I have an obligation to help prevent others from suffering the same fate.

      What Dr. Shepphard did to me is truly amazing. At one point I was sure that she was an impostor, as no doctor could make so many mistakes. Maybe she is demented? It just did not make sense. She has changed hospitals several times each time moving farther from major metropolitan areas.

      It is not OK for life threatening decisions to be made by one contract employee who may not be qualified to make decisions. There needs to be a system by which a doctor who may feel not qualified can easily refer a patient to another facility. The decision should not be mad eon the basis as to whether the care can be kept in system. There were no urologists available locally and i needed one. I was not the one to make this decision. I can make it now after having this experience and after spending probably 100 hours online trying to determine what wrong was done. aai was not in a position to do this when admitted to the ER. This is the ER EMERGENCY This is not where people can be expected to take charge of their care.

  • Well i really would rather suffer abit longer and go anyplace else than to rely on anything that is adventist. I value myself a bit more than to trust anyone in such a cult. They are quick to look the other way for each other and swarm to each others defense based sololy on each others word, for no other reason than they believe that they are the only true christians and everyone else are wrong . even their “prophet” eg white is some work of cray cray, she started having visions after being hit in the head with a rock, and these fine folks dont find that slightly odd lol

  • I was treated for an emergency at Mercy Medical Trauma Center in Redding a number of years ago. Not only did i get a great brain surgeon but the entire staff was wonderful. They had no problem with my husband visiting off hours etc even though it is a very Christian environment. There are Christians and there are “Christians” True Christians treat others as they would want to be treated themselves and adhere to other very basic principles. I don’t know much about Adventists but my experience with them so far is not that good.

    Was especially not pleased with the way they hide their identity as Willits Hospital Inc. They have “Adventists” plastered over every paper or sign you see at the hospital so I don’t think they are ashamed about the Adventists part. I guess is was an honest oversight forgetting to register as Adventists Hospital.

    • From what I understand, Howard hospital is owned by the Howard Foundation and is currently in a 50 year contract with Adventist Health to manage it. This must make suing them even more difficult.
      I have was also assaulted at one of their hospitals, so while I don’t know what you experienced, I feel your pain in feeling helpless in holding the right people accountable. I am trying though. Thank you for sharing so openly and I wish you good health.

    • Religion really has no place in medical care. Medicine is & should be about science.

  • From a link one of the earlier comments-
    “Medicare Disadvantage
    Physicians in small communities are also at a disadvantage because their patient population is comprised largely of Medicaid and Medicare patients, which provide lower reimbursement rates than commercial health plans.”

    In truth this is very much our problem in Humboldt Co. It is not a choice to remove badoctors from their practices but whether a fairly incompetent doctor is better than no doctor at all. Because that is the real choice.

    Those of you with a good doctor need to treasure them. They probably work harder, with less compensation, and less back up than their urban peers. I had a very good doctor, who as typical of the local situation, chose to move to a crime ridden city outside of Oakland because it would mean a higher income with less stress for him and his family. Yup. That’s right. Oakland is better than here. As we have made it so.

    Anyway when he moved, the practice hire a new and pretty bad doctor because NO ONE ELSE WOULD COME. They brought in candidates, put them up in the most charming hotels with the best food only to see them be instantly put off but the drug ridden subculture all around. Seen through the eyes of strangers, Eureka and environs is so ugly that people can not be bribed to work here.

    So now I’m stuck with a doctor where I think long before seeing as it is most likely she will do nothing and, having researched the internet out of sheer desperation before the visit, I am likely to have better information than she does. That is really scary but there has been zero opportunity to find another doctor.

    Before spending too much effort being outraged by allegations of incompetence, think about the true issue. It is not whether we can have better doctors but whether it is better to have poor doctors who are overworked than none at all. Because that, despite the beauty of our woods and seas, is the option created our crappy attitudes, whining and delusions that someone else will fix the messes we create.

    • Thank you, Mr Guest for the information.

      Mayers Hospital, and Healdsburg Hospital, are in the same class as Jerold Phelps Hospital, which is to say that they are in the Skilled Nursing Facility business primarily, and in all other aspects, are models of incompetent management, poor HR practices, and overall, great examples of what not to do!

      That these facilities cannot attract physicians, or any other allied health care professionals, is no surprise. Now they can directly hire, but this is no assurance that any providers will desire a position!

      Many of the providers who DO show up in the boonies to work Critical Access are folks who cannot find employment anywhere else! Older providers, in their 60’s, 70’s and beyond, some of these these folks can write prescriptions and maintain licenses, but these folks are often asked to sign papers and function in medical and admin roles far beyond their capabilities.

      In Critical Access, lie the biggest problems of modern medicine, with the lowest number of solutions. These facilities commonly break every law in the name of “maintaining services”, and the locals may or may not support them.

      Consume medical care carefully, be conservative, and if you need a large amount of care, move back to a place which is prepared to help you!

  • groba dude osnt trustafarian

    I have had an experience recently, being an employee of Howard Hospital, or whatever they call it.

    Willits Hospital Inc is a “partner” of Adventist Health, and although you are described to be an employee of Adventist Health, whenever it is legally convenient, you are actually best described as an employee of Willits Hospital!

    This is only one of the many deceptions you will encounter as an employee of Howard Hospital!

    In the first place, California Hospitals are entitled to employ doctors directly. If you go upstairs in Howard Hospital, you will encounter 4-5 “Nurse Practitioners” who actually treat most of the patients, under the supervision of the few actual Medical School graduates who actually work for Willits Hospital. The exact financial arrangements in place here between providers and hospital is quite opaque, and like everything else at Howard Hospital, appears to be shrouded in lies and deception.

    Lies and deception are the model at Adventist Health! If you make the mistake of becoming an employee of AH, or whatever they call it, you will be amazed by everything you see there, and by how often you are expected to swallow a major false story!

    In Northern California, in most locations, physicians are few and far between, since they, as a group, tend to prefer more comfortable places to reside. So, what we get in rural CA is too few, and lower quality providers… And far too many patients for the number of available providers!

    Hence the “contract physicians”…

    I have never encountered a more toxic or hostile workplace, and I worked at Howard Hospital and St Helena Hospital both. I was continuously lied to, gas-lighted, harassed, abused and treated like crap, at both hospitals. I was amazed at the risk the patients and staff were exposed to, and the level of incompetence in the general operations.

    The corporation called Adventist Health, is primarily concerned with generating capitol for Adventist Health, and as a corporation, AH could not care less about patients, employees or doctors. Their hospitals are minimally staffed, by the lowest level of employee they can get away with! This means that you may be attended to by an MA instead of an LVN, or an LVN instead of an RN, or a NP instead of an MD… You may go to surgery before you lab work is complete, since they don’t employ enough lab staff to complete the work in a timely manner, and you could easily expire since there are not enough nurses or NP’s or RN’s or any class of employee at all to competently care for you! At AH, you should expect to be lied to, expect an environment where State and Federal laws are constantly being broken in every aspect by a company who only apologizes or repairs things when caught by authorities.

    The economics of operating a hospital of any size cause a situation where everyone involved in Administration is automatically described as employed to lie, spread deception, and deny everything, no matter what they know to be actual fact!

    When talking about lawsuits, Adventist Health will settle every time rather than have their laundry washed in public. Adventist Health has been convicted of some very dirty crimes, forced to pay massive settlements, and in the employment law example, AH will do anything to keep the real story from being told!

    It does not hurt to be an Adventist, if you seek treatment or employment at AH, since as a group, the Adventists just accept whatever they get, and defend any attempt to defame the organization.

    Since almost all corporate hospitals are operated the same way, you would be hard pressed to find a different place to receive care in the healthcare world of 2018, especially in Willits CA!

    Corporations may operate hospitals, but lawyers are the ones who tell the corporations how to operate the company!

    Oh, and those Doctors who can’t figure out how to treat your condition, they are a problem too. These days, when you hire a contract company to provide physicians, you pretty much get what you get, especially in the ER. So, if you think the physician working for a contractor in Willits CA is somebody who is at the top of their field, you may be disappointed!

    Remember, the person who gets C’s in Medical School, and who just barely passes the Medical Boards, is still called a “Doctor”. And, there are plenty of doctors who went to foreign medical schools, came from foreign countries, and who are marginally competent, drug-addicted, mentally ill etc. In a rural hospital, you just don’t know what you will get in the ER, so don’t expect too much! You can always get up and leave, and NEVER throw away your right to sue! Doctors are someone’s employees too, and they may not be that good at their job!

    There is too much wrong here to tell the whole story, the rule here has to be, let the buyer beware! Always subscribe to helicopter ambo service, and be careful if you need care when traveling. Always choose the best care for yourself, but don’t waste your time trying to tell a physician how to care for you!

    There are good hospitals, and good practitioners, but I would never use Adventist Health for the smallest complaint, or, voluntarily check into any hospital North of Santa Rosa!

  • I have seen medical staff behaving badly, doing wrong things because it generates money, dismissing what patients say and not bothering to think. I have seen patients behaving badly, every badly, making outrageous demands, spreading misery and complaining non stop about what everyone else owes them. It is impossible to know which is which from a series of allegations in a letter to the editor. One sided stories can sound convincing but may be totally wrong. It’s not that this writer isn’t right but that it is impossible to tell.

    • Consider this a public service announcement. How is this guy benefiting from writing this letter? He’s not. You can believe what you want, but he’s answered numerous questions, been ridiculed, etc. Took a lot of courage to make this public and I applaud him and hope he finds some peace in knowing he has warned the community of this behavior.

      • Unless he’s created distrust where it wasn’t deserved. As I said, it is not that he is wrong but that no amount of one side choosing what to say and what to leave out should be assumed correct and complete. The doctors are barred from responding because the reporter has privacy rights. But there could be a completely different view if they could also say whatever they want.

        I have seen both sides. It is not something as easily resolved. But however you chose to view this letter is your own affair.

        • Are you kidding? I suppose you’re one of those who assumes all victims of sexual assault who speak up are also liars? You have no idea how much courage it takes to speak up when you’re at your most vulnerable. Again, he has nothing to gain here. No legal recourse. The least we can do as his community is listen and believe his story. He has been quite eloquent in his writing and has clearly spent a lot of time trying to advocate for himself and his community.

          The doctor has already moved on. If anything, this is a teaching letter to remind people to pay attention and always have a witness present when being treated in a hospital.

          Please tell us how you’ve seen both sides. Do you advocate assaulting patients? That is clearly what happened here. We have a right to bodily autonomy, even under the care of a physician. If a patient says stop, you stop! Anything else is assault.

          • groba dude osnt trustafarian

            Take a breath! The ER at Howard Hospital is a freaking zoo, on it’s best day! The patient above, with his complicated medical history, should learn that things do not always go according to plan…

            Even at that, he has a privilege to get upset, and a privilege to write to the editor, as much as you have the privilege of having your comment posted.

            Your assessment of what occurred in the ER is yours alone, and uninformed, since you may not have been present.

            • You clearly can’t read. He said he told her to stop and did not listen and kept going. That’s assault. If you don’t know that, then you shouldn’t be working there. I wish hospital employees would stand up to these doctors when they witness assault…I have friends and family who are nurses and think that its just standard, but that doesn’t make it okay. Have some courage and stand up and say something when you see assault happening.

              • Hospital employees that stand up to doctors get fired, summarily.

                Were you there? Do you have any firsthand information?

                Thanks very much for your kind consideration.

                • Yes, I realize this, that is part of the problem. Doctors have way too much power. I have been a hospital employee and also advocated in hospitals for patients.
                  I was not there, which is unfortunate because this man was assaulted and had no one listening to him when he needed to be heard and supported. Let’s do that for him now.

          • Bless you

        • just addressing the “Unless he’s created distrust where it wasn’t deserved” question. i did not. i gave the doctor plenty of opportunity until i was sure that what she was doing was wrong based on how much it hurt. i did not become insistent until she inflated the balloon to something like 25 cc while it was in my prostate or urethra, not my bladder. this caused serious damage which will be specified in the surgery report when i get it. a typical male urethra is less than 1 cm in diameter. a 25 cc inflated balloon is 3.1 cm in diameter. this is roughly equivalent to shoving a large carrot up your dick.

          the report from Howard states “This is a very pleasant 63-year-old gentleman presenting to the emergency department with some hematurea and urinary retention.” i was very pleasant and cooperative until i was assaulted. before inflating the catheter that was not in my bladder, the doctor grabbed my penis and forced the catheter in with all the force she could muster. this is not the way it is properly done. once the damage was done and i had to be prepared for transport to Santa Rosa, they called in a big burly nurse who was able to insert a catheter properly in spite of all the damage that had been done. she knew a lot more than the doctor because she was able to get it in without my screaming in pain. i am not clear on the details after that point because i was still gasping in pain and only thinking about how the fuck i was going to get out of there and what to do about my dog who was in my van in the parking lot.

      • Totally agree. I applaud his courage in telling his story. Positive healing to you!

  • Dear Spencer, My son was also put through a LOT of severe pain, to the point of screaming, by a Dr., a Urologist no less, also affiliated with Adventist Care, who would not listen to him when he told the Dr. to stop. This was in a different town, different hospital, but same kind of wrong headed, indifferent, arrogant disregard for the patient. This Dr. finally gave up the torture session and scheduled surgery for the next morning. I have wondered if my son’s continued and worsened problems were due to damage caused by this Dr. After hearing what my son experienced I also read up on what medical literature describes as the proper procedures for Foley catheter care and this Dr. was definitely not following them. When we went for my sons follow up appointment this Dr. was demeaning and insulting to the point that I was in tears and my son was left feeling so despondent that I was afraid that he had given up hope. Since we live in a large town, we were able to change doctors. Anyway, all this just to say that I know what you are talking about and sympathize greatly for all you have gone through. And I agree that the Dr. who caused you this pain and damage should not be allowed to practice. It seems that the only recourse is for people to not stay silent when such things happen and to keep writing letters to the CA medical board.

    • Yes to taking action and speaking up, though it seems that it is not enough and doctors are not being held accountable and having licenses revoked. I’m so sorry you and your son had a similar experience.

  • When harm is inflicted, accountability, i.e. fines and/or compensation is not only lawfully & morally justified, but essential to curbing future wrong doing.

  • It has been a while. Here is the latest update. After a postponement by Dr. Shepphard I finally got my “day in court”. Unfortunately I was ill advised by the nice (but ignorant) person at the Ukiah Small Claims Advisor office. I did not want to subpoena the doctor who fixed me up after the incident unless necessary. He is a good doctor and is helping people who have been assaulted by the likes of Miguela Shepphard. The advisor should have told me that I had no chance of a case without the testimony of a medical expert. The good doctor was advised by his medical malpractice lawyer to not provide an affidavit and to only give testimony if legally required. My guess is that his malpractice is from the same provider as Shepphard’s.

    So I went to court and the judge told me that I had no case without a medical expert’s testimony. The small claims advisor had suggested the the judge would be able to continue the case if i needed to subpoena the good doctor. She refused to do this and closed the case.

    When the bailiff announced the case as William Spencer Chase vs Miguela Sheppart, Shepphard said “that would be Dr. Shepphard” This cemented my opinion of her as an arrogant self centered sub human.

    What I have learned from this is that unless you are in need of immediate medical attention under the threat of imminent death and if you have even the slightest lack of confidence in what a doctor is doing to you, demand that they stop immediately and scream so that everyone can hear you if they refuse. Do not attempt to negotiate with an unreasonable idiot even if they did somehow manage to get a degree in medicine. I have had so many good doctors in the course of my cancer treatment that it never occurred to me that i needed to do this. It was quite clear that Dr. Shepphard was not a logical person and did not understand that what she was doing was pointless but I did not understand that she did not have a clue as to how to do something as basic as inserting a catheter.

    If for some reason you do encounter Dr. Shepphard at Howard Hospital Inc or elsewhere (she works at at least three other hospitals) and if you need anything more serious than a couple of stitches, ask for another doctor.

    While i was being assaulted by Dr. Shepphard, Dr. Bowen was passing through the ER. I just wish I had called out to him. Maybe he would have prevented Shepphard from doing her damage.

    The California Medical Board is investigating the case but unfortunately had not reached a decision in time for the small claims trial, not that it would have made a difference since i did not have a paid medical expert to testify.

    If anyone has had similar experiences with Howard Hospital Inc. please share them here and please report them to the California Medical Board. I know it is difficult to attract decent doctors to our remote location but we need to do whatever we can to prevent abuse by complete incompetents.

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