, Corbin, KY

Local News

April 16, 2014

Woman questions judge/exec about daughter’s emergency care

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

Tensions exploded during Tuesday’s regular Whitley County Fiscal Court meeting — and much of the tension appeared to stem from an issue one woman has concerning her daughter’s care during an emergency situation alleged to have happened in the county.

Karen Reid, whose daughter attends classes at the University of the Cumberlands, came before fiscal court to ask several questions to Judge/Executive Pat White Jr.

Reid has explained during past fiscal court appearances that she feels her daughter received substandard care while being attended to by crew members with Whitley County EMS.

She has repeatedly attempted to get answers concerning the situation, mostly from White, and has gotten or attempted to get information from the county through open records requests.

She has even hinted in past meetings about possibly filing a lawsuit against the county.

Reid has asked that the ambulance expenses and other expenses related to this issue be reimbursed to her and her family.

However, prior to her being given the chance to speak, fiscal court members, on the advice of County Attorney Bob Hammons, unanimously voted to go into an executive session “to discuss existing or pending litigation.”

The motion to go into the session was made by 3rd District Magistrate Jamie Fuson, with a second from 4th District Magistrate Robbie Brown.

That was at 6:36 p.m.

Approximately 30 minutes later, magistrates emerged from the closed session.

The meeting was reopened, and Hammons said that no formal action had been taken.

Then, Hammons asked for a motion concerning a “revised agreed order.”

In that order, it lists the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) as the petitioner, and Whitley County EMS as the respondent.

KBEMS completed an investigation into Reid’s complaint, filed Sept. 20, 2013. According to the order, the Preliminary Inquiry Board reviewed the issue Dec. 11 for disciplinary proceedings and referred the matter for an Administrative Hearing.

However, the revised agreed order will avert that hearing.

According to the agreement, Whitley EMS will be under a one-year probationary period beginning May 1 through May 1, 2015.

During that time, Whitley EMS must agree to an annual inspection of their facilities. Also, if Whitley EMS “undertakes any act identified as grounds for discipline…” KBEMS could temporarily suspend their license until an investigation can be performed and a formal resolution reached.

Further, the revised agreed order states Whitley EMS must provide four hours of in-service training on the treatment of anaphylaxis to all EMS personnel in the county’s employment.

Anaphylaxis, according to the United States National Library of Medicine, “is a severe, whole-body allergic reaction to a chemical that has become an allergen. After being exposed to a substance such as bee sting venom, the person’s immune system becomes sensitized to it.”

The order also requires EMS to submit its dispatch criteria policy to KBEMS within the probationary period.

If all that is achieved, the probationary status will be lifted.

The agreement is dated March 28 and was signed by Mike Poynter, executive director of KBEMS, and White, and it was notarized by county clerk Kay Schwartz.

Hammons’ requested motion allowed for Reid to be reimbursed all ambulance charges related to her daughter’s emergency.

Reid asked whether her travel expenses would be reimbursed as well — and she was informed they would not.

The motion to enter into the revised agreed order was given by 2nd District Magistrate David Myers, with a second from Fuson — fiscal court was unanimous with this decision.

Reid then thanked them for the decision — and proceeded to question White.

She asked about an E911 Board meeting recording she requested, and said that part of the recording was missing — particularly a conversation she was having with Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird.

She questioned why she had not heard any response from White concerning her requests. “Is that how you do business in Whitley County?” she asked.

White said that in most cases, no it is not. He then reminded her she had previously said she would not talk to White privately.

Reid then went on to question training she learned had been complete at Whitley EMS, but said that an open records request showed no in-house training was performed.

White said he would look into it.

Reid asked why she hadn’t heard response from former E911 Director Chuck Davis concerning her complaints.

White explained to Reid that Whitley Fiscal Court voted to give authority over those types of complaints or issues to the E911 Board. “I’d be happy to (go with you) and address (your issues) with the new 911 director,” White said.

Reid then asked White about the protocol for receiving mail — explaining why letters she marked as “private” for magistrates weren’t actually getting to the magistrates.

She said she received those back in her mailbox marked “Return to Sender.”

She implied that White would “no longer accept mail marked ‘private’ from me.”

“You accused staff of acting criminally,” White said to Reid, then explained when often mail is received, it is opened and “designated to the proper party.”

“You accused them of rummaging through your mail,” he continued, and told her the best way to get a letter to the magistrates was to send it to their home address.

As the questions continued, the tension from the audience continued to grow. Several just-above-a-whisper comments could be heard.

Reid then requested to see the policy and procedure on the county’s handling of mail — White said he would write it down for her.

Then Reid discussed a recording of a fiscal court meeting where she noticed EMS Director Kelly Harrison pounding her fist into her hand as she addressed fiscal court. “It’s threatening to me,” Reid said.

Lots of angry grumbling could be heard from throughout the room.

Then Reid began asking about a pre-hospital care report — to which Harrison questioned how Reid “had a copy of a privileged report.”

Reid’s concern was the length of time it took for the report to be filed.

Hammons intervened. “We can’t discuss (that) in an open forum like this,” he said, referring to the patient’s right to privacy. “(We can’t discuss) these documents that pertain to your daughter.”

Reid said it wasn’t her daughter’s report — it was someone else’s.

Suddenly, Harrison stood and asked White directly if she could be excused from the meeting. “This is ridiculous,” she said, and then changed her mind and sat back down.

Reid then continued, asking twice White what disciplinary actions were taken against Harrison.

White told her twice that she could send in an open records request for that information.

Reid then told White she felt he did not run the county business “in a professional manner at all.”

White apologized.

“I truly, truly feel sorry for your sons,” Reid said.

“Ma’am that goes too far,” White replied, and called for a motion to adjourn.

No magistrate offered a second to the motion, but several audience members erupted in applause. Reid went on.

“You’re setting a poor example for them,” she finished, and White again defended his sons. “That is too far,”  he said.


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