posted on April 17, 2011 23:02
A politically connected Batavia family is accusing United Memorial Medical Center of poor infection control procedures that have put one of their relatives on death’s door.
UMMC acknowledges an increase in a potentially deadly bacteria, but defends its policies and practices.
86-year-old Margaret Wagner of Batavia lies in critical condition at UMMC suffering from a common but deadly bacterial infection known as clostridium difficile, more commonly referred to as C. diff. Her family says she contracted the bacteria while hospitalized for a fractured hip that required surgery.
Lois Gerace is Mrs. Wagner’s caretaker. She is also her niece.
Mrs. Gerace owns Bob Harris realty, her husband is Chairman of the City Republican Party and her son John is a Town of Batavia councilman.
Lois Gerace says UMMC can and should do better:
"We wouldn't want something like this to happen to another family. We feel the hospital can do much better to control something like this with better information to the public and their own staff," Mrs. Gerace said.
UMMC officials concede its incidence of C. diff bacteria is up, from a normal two or three cases to six cases. But, UMMC President Marc Schoell says the hospital’s overall patient census also increased:
"As you look at the rate of C. diff, it has not changed much but the absolute number is a little higher than we are used to seeing in our facility," Schoell said.
Mrs. Wagner’s condition worsened over the past several days as did the family said their frustration with UMMC was reaching a breaking point.
John Gerace, Lois' son, said he told the hospital he was approaching the media:
"She (his Aunt Margaret) should never have been put on that floor with other C. diff patients following her surgery. When the press was called, the hospital scurried to get everyone off the third floor and began to sanitize the unit."
Schoell took exception to Gerace's observation:
"I asked my staff to start reviewing the co-hoarding of patients and then the scrubbing and cleaning of rooms before I had ever had any indication somebody was going to approach the media."
Schoell said the hospital is working with the state health department to control any further spread of C diff.
The Gerace family says they want to see infection control procedures at UMMC tightened. John Gerace said he has not ruled out legal action against the hospital.