Fumes Again Sicken People Treating Emergency Patient

<i> From Associated Press</i>

In an incident reminiscent of a baffling Riverside case, doctors and nurses treating an emergency room patient here became dizzy and had difficulty breathing, officials said.

The emergency room of Mercy Hospital was evacuated and decontaminated Saturday night by firefighters wearing protective gear.

Paramedics brought a 44-year-old woman to the hospital with breathing problems and a low pulse rate, hospital spokesman Barry Ginsbarg said Sunday.

After medical personnel inserted a breathing tube, they noticed strong fumes that appeared to come from the patient, Ginsbarg said. Doctors and nurses complained of headaches, nausea and burning eyes from the fumes, which had a chemical odor, officials said.


The patient was conscious but in critical condition Sunday, and in isolation, Ginsbarg said.

Ginsbarg said hospital officials do not know whether the odor came from the woman, and they have not been able to determine the nature of her illness.

Medical workers’ symptoms subsided quickly, except in the case of one worker with asthma, Ginsbarg said.

The case has some similarities to that of Gloria Ramirez, 31, who died Feb. 19 in the emergency room of Riverside General Hospital. Seven doctors and nurses were hospitalized after breathing fumes that appeared to come from her blood.

Two remain hospitalized. Dr. Julie Gorchynski was in fair condition Sunday in the intensive care unit of Loma Linda University Medical Center, eight days after the incident. Nurse Sally Balderas was in good condition at Parkview Community Hospital Center, an official said.