Former Catholic hospital accused of euthanizing woman

Dorothy Lee expressly stated wishes for life-saving treatment, but possessed a 2-million-dollar estate
St. Agnes Medical Center (photo from www.sjvnec.com)

St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno (photo from www.sjvnec.com)

The following comes from a February 24 LifeSiteNews article by Father Mark Hodges:

A formerly Catholic hospital is being sued for negligence and elder abuse resulting in the death of a woman for the sake of her two-million-dollar estate.

Dorothy Lee, a bedridden patient at St. Agnes Medical Center, repeatedly expressed to her caregivers and to hospital officials, in person and in writing, that she wanted life-saving treatment and resuscitation if needed to live. Nevertheless, the St. Agnes Medical Center is accused of intentional euthanasia via medical neglect.

Dorothy’s sons by her first husband, Alan and Dan Marcum, have agreed to bring the lawsuit against the former Catholic hospital and against Dorothy’s relatives, with Alan as the filing plaintiff.

The legal complaint notes that Dorothy’s second husband, Herbert Lee Thomas (Lee), was Dorothy’s primary caregiver, even though two of her physicians officially reported Lee as incompetent and not giving Dorothy adequate care. The complaint alleges that Lee concealed the doctors’ report from Alan and Dan Malcom.

According to the lawsuit, Lee abused Dorothy, including withholding medication, not filling prescriptions, canceling needed prescriptions, and physical abuse. She was not only found on numerous times malnourished, dehydrated and with bed sores, but also hospitalized for broken ribs, bruised eyes, and other physical injuries.

At one point, Alan and Dan hired a caregiver for their mother, but Lee had the caregiver do housework instead.

What is significant on principle for pro-lifers is that on several occasions, Dorothy signed health care directives for life sustaining treatment. She plainly stated her desire that everything be done to save her in the event that medical intervention became necessary.

Even after being admitted to St. Agnes Medical Center on April 29, 2013, Dorothy had her signed forms indicating she wanted life-saving medical care, and the attending physician noted them. Nevertheless, Dorothy was given “Advanced Directive” forms again, and she signed them, too. She consistently indicated that everything should be done to save her life, including what the modern medical community terms “full resuscitation.”

(The complaint alleges that Lee did not notify Dorothy’s sons Alan or Dan Malcom that their mother had been hospitalized.)

Then one of the defendants, Lee’s daughter Sharon Wimberley – a health care professional for 20 years – told Dr. Chinnapa Nareddy that Dorothy should not receive any lifesaving treatment whatsoever.

Wimberley had no authorization to act on Dorothy’s behalf, and Dr. Nareddy did not check if Wimberley had authorization to change his patient’s medical directives.

The complaint calls Wimberley “the Angel of Death” and alleges that she “knew that Dorothy wanted her Advance Healthcare Directive mandating full resuscitation to be followed, yet she disregarded Dorothy’s wishes.”

Dr. Nareddy altered Dorothy’s chart, and at 4:47 p.m. on April 30, 2013, all care and medicines were halted.

“All therapies were specifically removed, and no further efforts were made to help her stay alive,” the legal complaint states.

Thus, at 5:45 p.m., Dorothy died, alone, with no family, of respiratory failure.

A subsequent review of Dorothy’s records by an expert witness concluded that it was probable that Dorothy would have lived had she been treated as directed.

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Comments

  1. from what i saw a few years ago, there are many angels of death redefining the gestalt of end of life care in intensive care units, creating a new ‘praxis’, so to speak, that will serve as the template for new laws that will enshrine it all. one nurse told me that there is nothing worse than to try your hardest to save someone, and then to lose them. it’s taken personally, emotionally. and so as to shield themselves from that horrible feeling, there is less of an alll out push to the goal line. and thgat means fewer touchdowns into the life zone. and with staffing cuts everywhere to save money for the profit margin, there is less…

  2. How far we have fallen. The founders of the orders and religious congregations whose members once staffed and ran these Catholic institutions are not pleased with what is going on. Neither is Almighty God. The American bishops have much to answer for when they come before the throne of Christ the King.

  3. So when was the sale or other legal event that made the hospital ‘formerly Catholic”? Also, the article refers to Ms Wimberly as a healthcare professional for twenty years. That’s awfully vague. What was Ms Wimberly’s general level as a professional — nurse practitioner, RN, or some other title? Why the obscurity?

    • From the February 24 LifeSiteNews article: “St. Agnes Medical Center is allied with “Dignity Health,” but by the episcopal decree of Bishop Olmstead of Phoenix, the alliance has been prohibited from using its former title, “Catholic Healthcare West.”

      In December 2010, Bishop Olmsted announced that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix was severing its affiliation with the St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, which is owned by Catholic Healthcare West, after months of discussion had failed to obtain from the hospital management a promise not to perform abortions in the future.”

  4. The posted article excerpt does not specify where St Agnes is located. However a quick Google search gives a picture of a St Agnes in Fresno that looks like a dead ringer for the picture in the article. So I’m uncertain about the relevance of the actions of the good Bishop of Phoenix. Perhaps it would have been better if the divestiture agreement required the hospital to change its name so clearly they were no longer Catholic.

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