Patient dies after waiting 17 hours to be transferred
From 8:35 p.m. July 2 until 1:30 p.m. July 3, a man in Hillsboro Community Hospital’s emergency room waited for tests to be finished and an ambulance to a larger hospital, but no hospital within the mileage range county ambulances typically travel would accept him.
By the time Hillsboro resident Dwight Schmidt was flown from the Hillsboro airport to Topeka at 1:48 p.m. July 3, he was so ill he died soon after he arrived.
His sister, Julie Kaiser, who had driven him to the hospital because he had excruciating abdominal pain, watched things go from bad to worse during the 17-hour ordeal of waiting to find a hospital that could provide needed treatment and an ambulance that could get him there.
When Schmidt arrived at HCH, his blood pressure was low and heart rate high. Emergency room staff gave him pain medication and did a CT scan.
They gave him intravenous fluids to get his blood pressure up but it bounced up and down instead of stabilizing.
The CT scan showed a bulge in his intestines. Antibiotics were given.
Salina Regional Health Center, where Schmidt was being treated for cancer of the throat, was contacted but said it could not take him because no rooms were available.
Both Wesley Medical Center and Ascension Via Christi St. Francis hospitals in Wichita also said they could not accept Schmidt. Newton’s NMC Health said they did not have room for him.
HCH staffers kept contacting hospitals.
About midnight, University of Kansas St. Francis hospital in Topeka agreed to admit Schmidt.
Then, the challenge of finding transportation began.
Air ambulance services were contacted but didn’t want to fly into Marion County because of weather.
“About 1:30 a.m., we knew there was nobody who would fly him out,” Kaiser said.
Marion County ambulance service declined to take him to Topeka.
“We did decline that one,” emergency medical services director Travis Parmley said. “It was out of our 60-mile range.”
At 10:38 a.m. July 3, Hillsboro ambulance and a shift supervisor went to HCH to assist hospital personnel. The ambulance crew shuttled an air ambulance crew to the hospital and back again to the airport with Schmidt.
Parmley said he wouldn’t pretend to have all the answers about where the county should draw the line on how far its ambulances will take a patient.
County ambulances took two patients to out-of-county hospitals while Schmidt was at HCH.
Marion ambulance took a Hilltop Manor resident to NMC at 8:47 p.m. and returned at 11:18 p.m.
While Marion ambulance was at Newton, Hillsboro ambulance took a St. Luke patient to St. Francis. That trip began at 9:06 p.m. and the ambulance didn’t return to Hillsboro until 1:13 a.m.
Apparently HCH contacted Marion County EMS by telephone. Dispatchers did not call for them on emergency broadcasts recorded by the newspaper.
Parmley, who recently has been a target of criticism, said there were many moving parts to the problem of getting patients where they need to go while being available to all county residents.
The amount of criticism that has been heaped upon him in recent weeks, the stress has been so unbearable he has considered resigning.
“It’s just not healthy for me, and my attitude and stress is not what I want it to be,” Parmley said. “I want to help people. That’s why I’m in the business I’m in.”
Last modified July 14, 2022