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Baby Matthew was denied medical care and a second opinion at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower. After Baby Matthew's parents went through the Kaiser Permanente appeal process they were told that he has a tumor on his spine and that they will not treat him. Previously Baby Matthew was treated at Kaiser for a tumor on his brain which Kaiser said was totally removed. On July 4th, 2003 this child was rushed to Kaiser Bellflower because he suffered a seizure. Kaiser wanted to send him home. Since that time the parents have attempted to get an outside second opinion, contact all applicable government agencies, etc., while caring for their son. A very difficult task to do all at once.
Last week, Kaiser three times in one day tried to get the parents to allow their son to be given morphine. Kaiser said he needed it for breathing problems. Matthew wasn't having any trouble breathing at all and morphine is generally not given for patients with breathing problems anyway as it can kill them. The parents refused Kaiser's demand to administer morphine to their son.
At this point in time, July, 15, 2003, Baby Matthew's condition is grave. There is no excuse for Kaiser to have put the family through all of this turmoil. Kaiser Permanente should not be doing this to any family, much less one with a seriously ill three year old boy. It would not have hurt Kaiser to have provided a second opinion to confirm their diagnosis.
Because Kaiser decided to not help this family I have to wonder if Baby Matthew could have been helped earlier and Kaiser was just trying to save some money, or perhaps their medical staff just wasn't doing their job. This treatment is nothing more than evil and I cannot imagine how anyone working at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower can sleep soundly at night or look themselves in the mirror or even face their own children, knowing how they are abusing the patients at this facility. People working at Kaiser choose to work there and participate in these type of abusive behaviors. No one is making them stay there to do these things, so this time and with this case, I don't want one single Kaiser Permanente employee to contact me and cop out with a plea that they they didn't have anything to do with this child's lack of medical care. Because we all know that you do have this knowledge and you choose to keep working at Kaiser Permanente. I condemn the entire Kaiser Permanente Bellflower facility for this abuse on the Salas family.
July 16, 2003 - Matthew is still here. His parents are giving him sips of water from a cup. He is having some pain and his parents are administering pain medication as it is needed. I contacted Mr. Halvorson's office this morning. He is the CEO of Kaiser and I requested his intervention. I gave this office the father's cell phone number. I was assured that his office would be overseeing this matter and that Mr. Salas would be contacted.
It did not happen. No one called Mr. Salas today. What did happen is that the Kaiser oncologist that told the parents that all the cancer had been removed finally showed up at the hospital room. This Kaiser physician attempted to have the baby removed from the hospital and sent home. Again Kaiser is doing nothing more than making a difficult time for this family even worse.
July 17, 2003
Matthew's oncologist that again showed up to get the parents to
remove him from the hospital is:
Matthew's diet for the last 12 days has been Potassium, 5% dextrose and .45 sodium chloride. Anyone would lose weight on that diet. That is only for short term nourishment and 2 days is not really short term, is it? I have to wonder what Kaiser has in mind for this child that is ill that says they want to toss out the door and not provide food for? Matthew can drink water out of a cup when his parents offer it to him. I don't know why he can't have some food. I would think that losing weight that rapidly and on such a poor diet would make just about anyone weak.
July 18, 2003 - Baby Matthew Salas is still with us. Kaiser this afternoon presented a letter to his parents granting a second opinion at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. Unfortunately there are no beds available at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. I wonder if Kaiser had this information when they wrote the letter? That probably explains why Kaiser has not been helping to arrange the transfer for this child.
5:35 P.M. - I just received word that Children's Hospital of Los Angeles has reviewed the current medical records of Baby Matthew Salas and there is at this time nothing that can be done. I do not know if they could have earlier done anything or not. In any event the parents are now much calmer knowing the truth of their son's medical condition.
Administrative Staff has suddenly become quite friendly with
the parents and are offering them all sorts of offers of
The parents are politiely listening to Kaiser Administration.
I say more about how the parents are feeling? How would you
after going through all of this? This Friday afternoon, Baby
Salas is still with us and holding his own. He is being cared
by family and friends, not the Kaiser staff that refused to provide
care for this child. He is still at Kaiser Permanente
At this time the parents are not being given the child's medical
I hope that Kaiser just decides to do the right thing and let the parents have these records. The family needs to understand why all of this has taken place and why their family has been treated in such a disrespectful manner these past few weeks.
Baby Matthew Salas is still receiving food. This is day two of food since July 4th for this child.
July 22, 2003
Last night Kaiser sent into the hospital room of Baby Matthew Salas their Kaiser attorney with the Chief of Staff. The intent as conveyed to me was more than just the usual insult of the day from this facility but to attempt to get the parents to assume responsibility for Kaiser's negligence, malpractice and intentional attempt to terminate this child's life.
Kaiser medical staff also has convinced the parents that feeding food to their child is responsible for mucous forming in is lungs and causing breathing problems. I am not a doctor but medical people have informed me that it is very unlikely that the food is causing this problem. Kaiser has not tested this child for food allergy.
I was also informed that on the local Los Angeles Spanish television station that someone identified as a priest took it upon himself to tell the public that this child has had a miracle recovery and that the family does not need their help. This information is an untruth. I did not see this television broadcast, but I can tell you that no miracle anything has happened to this child. It would be a miracle if Kaiser did the right thing and left the family alone though.
Today, July 24, 2003, around 3:00 in the afternoon Baby Matthew Salas left this world.
"He will have peace and be honored in a place most of his caregivers will never see." - Dr. Charles Phillips
July 28, 2003 - This afternoon I received the following letter from Victor K. Wong, M.D. via email dated July 24, 2003. This was dated four days ago but sent via email today.
In fairness to Dr. Powell, the physician of Baby Matthew Salas, deceased patient at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower, I have graciously offered to post said letter and Dr. Wong, Chief, Department of Pediatrics of Kaiser Bellflower has accepted my offer. Dr. Wong had asked me to remove the section on this family's story but as my information is accurate to the best of my knowledge and has again this evening been reverified I see no reason to do so. The family of Baby Matthew Salas has a right in this country to have their story posted.
K. Wong, M.D.
Travis July 24, 2003
Dear Ms. Travis:
It was with dismay that I was notified of the inaccurate portrayal of the medical care provided to one of our Kaiser members, Matthew Salas which has been posted on your website, www.kaiserpapers.org. Having personally met Matthew and his parents early on during treatment of his disease and without ever receiving a complaint or concern regarding his care, I was shocked to hear a depiction that was completely opposite of what I know to be true. I was especially taken back by the suggestion that Dr. Powell failed to provide the outstanding care and compassion that she is known for by parents and colleagues alike. It would, of course, be inappropriate for me to discuss the confidential details of Matthew’s clinical condition and treatment but I would like to convey to you some thoughts and facts about Dr. Powell.
My initial thought was to provide a few of the many laudatory quotes and anecdotes from patients, parents and the medical staff who think highly of Dr. Powell and her work, but I felt it might be more meaningful to you to share her many professional accomplishments. Dr. Powell is a American Academy of Pediatrics Board Certified physician who completed her hematology-oncology training at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and was recognized as a Fellow of the American Cancer Society in 1977. Her professional excellence has continued as the Primary Investigator in the Children’s Oncology Group for Southern California Kaiser Permanente, while providing care as both a general pediatrician as well as a pediatric hematology-oncologist. She has been recognized by her colleagues by being awarded the Exceptional Contribution Award in 1993.
Her support of the community in which she lives and works has included active participation in the E.E. Just Hematology Society, National Medical Association, Association of Black Women Physicians, American Society of Hematology, Los Angeles Pediatric Society and has been the Staff physician for the Southern California Sickle Cell Research Foundation, Summer Camp program for over 12 years. She is an active participant in the Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical School based clinics in Bellflower and Downey where she provides free medical care to children without health care insurance.
Indeed, Dr. Powell (and Kaiser Permanente), nor Matthew, deserve the cruel and inaccurate portrayal that is currently on your website. I ask that you consider “posting” some of the facts noted above and give Matthew’s parents the opportunity to come to peace with the tragedy of a young child afflicted by a horrible disease.
I ask you earnest consideration,
Victor K. Wong, M.D.