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OVH Director Calls Foul On Mayors Ambulance Ride
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An Oak Valley Hospital District board member is criticizing the city for violating policies with its use of an Oak Valley ambulance the police department summoned for the mayor last month.

On Oct. 15, in the early morning hours, Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul’s husband, Phil Stanwood, called the police department regarding Paul having “a nervous breakdown” at the residence.

Police personnel were sent along with an ambulance who later took Paul to Doctor’s Hospital in Modesto.

Paul, who had previously told the public she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, told The Leader when asked about the incident that she had to be hospitalized that night due to a bad reaction to the prescribed medication.

“I was aware of what was going on around me, but I had this delusion that I could fly,” Paul said about the night her husband called to summon an ambulance. “Phil was worried I would do something stupid and called for the ambulance.”

Paul said because she was wearing only a nightgown, her husband requested a woman ambulance attendant to respond.

Because preliminary information in the call to police only indicated “nervous breakdown,” the police did not notify the fire department to respond. The fire department responds when the emergency call is medical in nature, but not for mental health issues.

“The police officers who came and the ambulance staff were very professional and understanding,” said Paul.

Paul was taken by the ambulance crew to Doctors Hospital in Modesto where she spent a brief time recovering. The hospital cannot comment on Paul’s stay due to laws regarding patient privacy and confidentiality.

“It was a violent reaction to the chemicals in the Parkinson’s medication I was given by the Parkinson’s Institute,” said Paul, claiming that she was mistakenly given dosage units for a person weighing in excess of 250 pounds. “Doctors there confirmed it was the wrong dosage and I had it flushed out of my system.”

On Oct. 21, Oak Valley Hospital Board Chairman Dan Cummins, who is also a City of Oakdale fire captain, sent a letter to Oakdale Police Chief Lester Jenkins about the department’s response and a list of policy violations dispatchers committed when they requested the ambulance.

“This isn’t about the mayor receiving any special treatment,” said Cummins, stressing that he sent the letter as an OVH Director and not a fire captain. “It’s about a breach of contract with the agreement we have with the county on how it was handled.”

Cummins said the purpose of the letter to Jenkins was “advisory,” citing that when a female unit was requested, the closest unit wasn’t used to respond. He also said there was no “first responder” (fire department) response and that Paul was taken “Code-3” to Doctors Hospital.

“They (ambulance personnel) have to live by a set of rules,” Cummins said. “You don’t have the right to dictate them to go outside of their set of rules.”

Cummins shared the letter he wrote to Chief Jenkins with The Leader. In it, Cummins wrote, “OPD aided in the circumvention of an Emergency Medical Response by Oak Valley Ambulance.”

The letter is written in a memorandum style with no letterhead from the hospital.

Cummins listed the three violations and stated there is the possibility of monetary fines.

Cummins also wrote, “I have contacted the Mountain Valley Emergency Medical Service Agency and have requested and investigation into this response.”

The Mountain Valley Emergency Medical Service Agency coordinates and regulates emergency service for the area. The Oak Valley Hospital District covers “Zone 4” in Stanislaus County consisting of Oakdale, Riverbank, Valley Home, and Knights Ferry.

Cummins also questioned if the situation regarding Paul rose to the need for the transport to use lights and sirens.

“There are set standards regarding the patient’s status,” Cummins said. “It doesn’t appear that if this was a transport for a psychological condition that (Code-3) was needed.”

Jenkins said he would not comment about the incident since an investigation was requested by Cummins and it could be considered a personnel matter.

“In general however, when we get calls that are considered mental in nature such as a nervous breakdown, we don’t send the fire department,” said Jenkins. “Also, Doctors Hospital is the designated hospital for those types of calls.”

Jenkins said he was notified of the call involving the mayor per department procedure later that morning.

Oak Valley Hospital CEO John McCormick said he could not comment because he had not seen the letter.

Cummins said that if the district is fined for the response he will move to have the fines passed to the city to be paid.