The Ukiah Valley Medical Center is being sued for malpractice. The plaintiff is a woman named Marie. We will spare Marie further agony by fully identifying her. UVMC, unkindly referred to at my home office as "The Kill Factory," has offered Marie a piddling $150,000 to settle but she refused. Apparently the poor woman was mistakenly given enough of the wrong meds to kill her and at least one backyard horse. Marie had had to leave in the middle of the court proceedings because she was about to conk out. Again.
A medical doctor was on the stand.
“The brain needs glucose and sugar as well as oxygen. If those are turned off, brain cells begin to die. And one of the things about our nurses is that they won’t let you change anything until you sign a document.”
The lawyer asked, “Did that process fall through the cracks, here?”
“Yes, I’m afraid it did. There’s a certain life to any drug and that’s why these documents have to be signed off on.”
“So Marie was given morphine by the paramedics on the way to the hospital?”
“That’s my understanding, yes.”
“Then she received additional narcotics after she arrived?”
“Yes, she received massive doses — most of us would be asleep after that – if we were breathing at all.”
“And did she get additional drugs after that? Did she get Oxycontin? Just before she crashed?”
“Yes, she did get Oxycontin before the crash. But, I don’t like to use that term 'crash." I prefer 'Code Blue.' But you are correct, she did. That’s one of the things that fell through the cracks. And yes, it was the doctor’s responsibility — but the nurses and staff — you can’t be one person, it has to be the whole team or nothing!”
“So the nurses need to communicate with the next shift?”
“Well, yes. That’s my understanding, that one will be passed on to the other.”
“But was there an order for oxygen?”
“I’m not clear on that. I hope that if a doctor ordered some oxygen that it would be done before she was transferred out of the PACU?” (Post Anesthesia Care Unit.)
“No. No, it was not. It was one more thing that fell through the cracks.”
“That’s all the questions I have. Thank you, doctor.”
Judge Behnke called a recess.
Marie, serially tumbling through the cracks of medical procedures that nearly finished her off would seem to have a claim worth a lot more than $150,000.
* * *
There was a visiting magistrate from Sacramento in Judge Brown’s court, the Honorable Rolene McIllwrath, and she was furious. She said that a Ukiah street waif had had the temerity to ask her if he could use her cell phone!
Her honor had sufficiently recovered from that impertinence to hear a prelim for a pot bust in Ukiah, an indoor grow at 157 Meadowbrook, right next door to a cop’s house, of all places.
Deputy Nalini Gupta of the Drug Task Force had found the entire garage at 157 Meadowbrook – a two-car garage – converted into a drying room, with twine strung from wall to wall and a great many plants ready for final processing. Deputy Gupta said there were more than 57 pounds on the drying lines, and another 8-1/2 pounds of processed bud in nearby bins, ready for market.
The prosecutor, Deputy DA Rayburn Killion, asked Special Agent Gupta if he spoke with the defendants, Guy and April Perry.
“And what did they say?”
“April Perry pointed to the guy on the couch and said, ‘Talk to him.’”
“What did Mr. Perry say?”
“Well, I believe he said, ‘Great! Now, we’ll have to send our daughter to state college!”
“So he was pretty much admitting that the marijuana was his?”
“Yeah, pretty much,” Gupta said.
Judge McIllwrath called a recess for lunch where, presumably, she was not hit on for her cell phone.
* * *
Judge David Nelson was on the bench in Judge Henderson’s court where another pot bust was being adjudicated. This one involved allegations that the defendant, Mr. Dennis Gage, had tried to bribe Special Agent Derek Hendry with 10% of his marijuana garden proceeds and a Ford F550 pickup truck.
Deputy DA Kitty Houston played a video of the cop and the pot gardener sitting in the patio of the Willits Burger King where Gage had allegedly signed the title to his truck over to Hendry — “spelling my name wrong,” Hendry groused.
The video wasn’t much as afternoon matinees go — the cop with the camera fumbled the filming and the sound was often inaudible. Judge Nelson, however, said he “got the gist of it.”
Ms. Houston asked Special Agent Hendry how he came to find out about the marijuana grow — a big, outdoor project, it seemed, supposedly worth a cool million in the Texas market it was designated for. Hendry had heard that the growers had taken a motor home stuffed with weed to Texas the year before and netted a quarter mil, but this time they had bigger plans.
On cross examination, defense attorney Ed Denson tried to pin Hendry down on the location of the grow but Hendry couldn’t say for sure. He said he was investigating “hundreds of grows” in the Covelo area at the time, he said. Denson kept plugging away, but Judge Nelson lost patience with the repetition and ordered the lawyer to move on.
“So you first learned of this grow from your father?” (Special Agent Derek Hendry is the son of Deputy Raymond Hendry.)
“Did your father tell you where it was?”
“He gave me the name of a 'Ferry Ranch,'” replied the witness. “He said it was somewhere out past the Ferry Ranch, maybe a mile-and-a-half past the 'Ferry Ranch' on Mendocino Pass Road.”
“Did you know where the' Ferry Ranch' was?”
SA Hendry blushed and said, “Me? Oh, no. No, I had no idea where it was.”
“Do you remember when this was?”
“It was harvest time, the last full moon of October, as I recall.”
"But you didn’t know where the 'Ferry Ranch' was?”
“I didn’t even know if it really existed. All I heard was it was a ranch with a bunch of faggots running around like, well… ”
Eyebrows lifted, glances exchanged, chuckles suppressed.
The "Ferry Ranch," it seems, was the "Fairy Ranch," cop shorthand for, well, you know.
The startling reference to faggots and fairies at ground zero of politically correct Ukiah – its Obama mesmerized Courthouse with its full complement of Clintonian judges and lawyers, five floors of a language scrupulously scrubbed of hurtful terms, well, goodness!
“So you did not ask at any time where this 'Fairy Ranch' was, Special Agent Hendry?”
Denson, a liberal from the equivalently correct precincts of Southern Humboldt, saw nothing amusing about in the witness’s casual use of verboten terms to described this county's gay community while I pondered the generational implications of the slur. Hendry Sr., in keeping with his years, had deployed the antiquated "fairy," Hendry Jr. the more contemporary, "faggots," while Grandpa Hendry might have said, "The Pansy Ranch," with Great Grandpa Hendry perhaps preferring "Nancy Boy Acres."
Our native tongue is rich and ever-evolving.
SA Hendry looked blankly at the unsmiling Denson. The young cop was the proverbial deer in the high-beams.
Denson tried again.
“Did you say, at some time, ‘Father, where is this Fairy Ranch?'”
(Father? Father, where art thou?)
Hendry blushed again. “Yes,” he said. “At some point, I must have.”
("Yo, Pops! Where are the Covelo faggots?")
“And he was able to answer?”
SA Hendry looked perfectly miserable, and Judge Nelson called for a recess.
These cases will all be back next week – they were preliminary hearings. I’ll pick up the thread on the Fairy Ranch, the Perry kid's college disappointment and how poor Marie makes out in her suit against the hospital.
* * *
Raul Arreola, 18, was caught with 68 Vicodin pills at Ukiah High School where, it seems, downers, are much in vogue. Mr. Arreola is a senior at the school; he's also enrolled in the Young Parent's Program, meaning he is a student-father-drug dealer. He pled guilty last week to felony possession of a controlled substance before Judge Richard Henderson.
The judge upbraided the young drug salesman for not only his possession of a relatively large number of the dangerous pills but for bringing them to school to sell.
"This is a very serious offense," the judge said, "and it carries the very real possibility of up to a year in jail or a state prison term.”
Arreola’s lawyer, Eric Rennert, explained that young Raul was not a drug salesman, that he had been given the pills by a friend who'd worried that young Raul himself was in physical pain, 68 pill's worth.
“No money changed hands, your honor. My client had an injury and just wanted the pills for his own use. He has no prior violations of any kind.”
The judge was skeptical.
“I might be willing to consider that excuse," the judge said, if it had only been a few pills, but 68 is quite a lot, and I have no doubt that they were intended to be sold. If you were in pain you could have gotten the medication you needed through the proper channels. However, considering your record and your age, I’m going to go along with the arrangement made with the DA.”
Which was the more severe of two alternatives: young daddy's drug arrest will become part of his permanent legal history, and if he's caught again in the drug business he goes to jail instead of parenting classes.