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NANCY GRACE

Medical Staff Watches as Woman Dies Untreated on Floor of ER

Aired June 13, 2007 - 20:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight: Dying in plain sight. A young woman makes it all the way to the hospital in intense pain, then lies on the ER floor, writhing in pain, bleeding from her mouth, ER staff refusing to treat her even after her family and even other patients go outside to a pay phone to re-call 911. Highly disturbing video now released even catches the janitor cleaning the floor around the lady as she lay dying. It was a perforated bowel. Doctors now say she could have been saved if she were treated. That LA community now waiting on prosecutors to take action.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A 43-year-old Los Angeles woman dies on the emergency room floor of an inner city hospital after hospital staff refused to help her. Edith Isabel (ph) Rodriguez was vomiting blood and in pain for 45 minutes while her boyfriend begged hospital staff to help save her life. He and another bystander made separate 911 calls, asking to send Rodriguez to another hospital, but the dispatcher refused. Experts say Rodriguez could have survived if she was treated early enough. This isn`t the only incident of a lapse at this hospital. A hospital spokesperson said, No comment.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GRACE: And tonight, a 22-year-old college honor student vanishes into thin air while vacationing in Miami, Florida, last seen at a concert, traveling there in a four-door black sedan, a recent honor grad of John Jay College headed to law school. Tonight, where is Stepha Henry?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stepha Henry was last seen 14 days ago here at her (INAUDIBLE) The 22-year-old graduate of John Jay College was heading to this club in Ft. Lauderdale and left her aunt`s home at about 1:00 AM May 29, getting into a black car with a male friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was last seen outside there in this vehicle. Again, it`s a four-door Acura Integra.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This image was captured from video taken inside Peppers, and investigators tell Eyewitness News Stepha did check her cell phone voice-mail about three hours later, at 4:13 in the morning. But that`s the last activity on her cell. Now it just rings to voice-mail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Miami-Dade detectives tell us they suspect foul play.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But for now, friends say it`s not if Stepha comes home, rather when.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) and I love you very much, and you know I need you home. Call someone or -- and we`ll come get you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. First, 911 dispatch, a hospital staff ignores desperate pleas to help a woman dying there on the hospital floor.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My wife is dying. The nurses don`t want to help her out.

911 OPERATOR: OK, what do you mean she`s dying? What`s wrong with her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She`s vomiting blood.

911 OPERATOR: OK, and why aren`t they helping her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): OK, they`re watching her. They`re watching her there, and they`re not doing anything. They`re just watching her.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GRACE: How could a woman lie dying on a hospital emergency room floor, when friends and family have to go outside to a pay phone to re-call 911 ambulances, hoping they`ll come take her away from the hospital? The woman, a mother, dies there on the floor of the hospital while she goes untreated. Now doctors reviewing the records say she could have been saved.

Out to Jane Velez-Mitchell, investigative reporter. I don`t believe it!

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Nancy, the facts of this case are so horrifying, they are almost hard to believe. But sadly, they are all too true. It was on May 9, shortly after midnight, that 43-year- old Edith Rodriguez goes into the emergency room of Martin Luther King Harbor Hospital. She is in severe pain. She`s put in a wheelchair. She is hurt so bad, she flips out of the wheelchair onto the floor, into the fetal position. Witnesses say she is vomiting blood and writhing in pain, but the hospital staff does nothing to help her.

At 1:43, her desperate boyfriend calls 911, as you just heard, begging a dispatcher to send somebody, a paramedic, over to help her. They say, well, they can`t do that because she`s already at an emergency room, which is precisely where they would take her.

Eight minutes later, a woman bystander sees this horrible scene. She calls 911 and gets another dispatcher and has an argument with the dispatcher. The dispatcher says, It`s not an emergency. She says, You`re not here to see it, and then he proceeds to scold her. She says, May God strike you for what you`re doing -- an absolutely surreal circumstance.

Within half an hour, Edith Rodriguez is dead, as you said, of a perforated bowel, and experts say she could have been saved had she been treated promptly.

GRACE: Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As Edith Rodriguez lay in pain, bleeding on the floor of King Harbor Hospital in Los Angeles, not one hospital staff member helped her. When her boyfriend called 911, begging for help, the dispatcher refused to send paramedics. An ER bystander placed a second call to 911, and that dispatcher insisted it wasn`t an emergency.

This is the latest incident in a series of patient care breakdowns at King Harbor Hospital. A hospital spokesperson said, No comment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My wife is dying, and the nurses don`t want to help her out.

911 OPERATOR: OK, what do you mean, she`s dying? What`s wrong with her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She`s vomiting blood.

911 OPERATOR: OK, and why aren`t they helping her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): OK, they`re watching her. They`re watching her, and they`re just not doing anything. They`re just watching her.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR: What`s your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a lady on the ground, and we`re in an emergency room at Martin Luther King, and they are overlooking her.

911 OPERATOR: If you`re not pleased with the result you`re getting from them, you know, we can`t...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it`s another patient. (INAUDIBLE) it`s another patient (INAUDIBLE) she`s down, all down on the ground, you know, and they...

911 PERSON: Well, ma`am, I cannot do anything for you for the quality of the hospital there. You understand what I`m saying? This line is for emergency purposes only.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GRACE: I can`t believe it. And there is even video where the janitor is cleaning up the floor around the lady lying there, dying. This is not some third world country, this is our country. This is one of the biggest cities in the world, LA, where this happened, where this lady died.

And it`s my understanding -- out to you, Nicole Partin -- that she had been in there two or three times in the days before, complaining of intense pain, and they kept giving her painkillers, telling her there`s nothing wrong with her, to go back home. And she would go sit out on the park bench in front of the hospital in so much pain, begging for help. And the whole time, what she had was gallstones, causing, ultimately, a perforated bowel, Nicole. Is that correct?

NICOLE PARTIN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Yes. Good evening, Nancy. Absolutely. She had been to the hospital three days in a row, and would go in, they would give her painkillers. She was in such pain that the last visit, she chose to just stay at the hospital. So she rested on a bench outside the hospital door, and that`s where police found her and took her inside. And very, very tragic case. Like you said, in a big city, and here`s a lady who dies at the hospital, screaming in pain.

GRACE: So bad that other patients in the emergency room were going out to the pay phone, trying to get an ambulance to pick her up from the emergency room. When she came in the door, guys, the nurses went, Oh, she`s already been here. She`s been here two times before. And they would not treat her.

Out to the lines. Karen in California. Hi, Karen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Love your show.

GRACE: Thank you, Karen. Thank you for calling in. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`d like to know if the nursing staff could be held legally liable.

GRACE: Well, I only pray that they are. Out to Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor. Wendy, who`s going to get charged?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR, VICTIMS` RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Where to begin with the list? It seems like virtually anybody who knows anything about medicine in the room or in the entire hospital, including the CEO, they`re all on the hook. And I just wish this could have been my case.

Nancy, I was almost jaw-droppingly silent when I was listening to you because I just am stunned at the capacity of inhumane behavior from the caregivers in a hospital!

I think the lesson here is, don`t call 911 if you`re in that hospital, call me. Call a lawyer because that`s what you need! You need somebody to threaten to sue hospitals like this. And believe me, they will pay very dearly, very much money at the end of the day on this case.

GRACE: And for people that are hearing this story, forget for a moment that it`s in a city not your own. Forget that it`s someone you don`t know, Miss Rodriguez. Imagine that it`s your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, lying there on the emergency floor dying, and the nurses won`t treat you. That is what happened. The woman is dead.

Out to the lawyers, Doug Burns, Renee Rockwell. Renee Rockwell, where do we start filing the lawsuits?

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, all I see in this case is lawsuits, not any criminal liability. But don`t discount the fact that...

GRACE: You ever heard of involuntary manslaughter? I see it coming.

ROCKWELL: No, Nancy, absolutely not.

GRACE: Have them stand by and not treat her.

ROCKWELL: Imagine the hospital on a Saturday night. Can you imagine the gunshots, the car wrecks, the drunks, the people that might have gotten hit by cars. These nurses sometimes have to make a decision who goes in, who gets treated first, Nancy. And you can fault them, but you`re not going to be able to lock anybody up.

GRACE: Dr. William Morrone, medical exercise, forensic psychologist, I believe that assessment Miss Rockwell is referring to in the defense of these nurses should be made after an examination, not when the woman comes to the door writhing in pain. And there`s documentation that the nurse said, Oh, she`s been here before. There`s nothing wrong with her. Doctor?

DR. WILLIAM MORRONE, MEDICAL EXAMINER, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: The federal law is very clear. It has a very specific name. It`s called EMTALA guidelines, and it deals with emergency medical treatment and transfer, and it requires any facility that identifies themselves as an emergency facility to first evaluate, and second, stabilize. That is the law, and I didn`t see either one of those.

GRACE: Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My wife is dying. The nurses don`t want to help her out.

911 OPERATOR: OK, what do you mean she`s dying? What`s wrong with her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She`s vomiting blood.

911 OPERATOR: OK, and why aren`t they helping her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): OK, they`re watching her. They`re watching her there, and they`re not doing anything. They`re just watching her.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR: What`s your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a lady on the ground, and we`re in an emergency room at Martin Luther King, and they are overlooking her.

911 OPERATOR: If you`re not pleased with the result you`re getting from them, you know, we can`t...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it`s another patient. (INAUDIBLE) it`s another patient (INAUDIBLE) she`s down, all down on the ground, you know, and they...

911 PERSON: Well, ma`am, I cannot do anything for you for the quality of the hospital there. You understand what I`m saying? This line is for emergency purposes only.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GRACE: I don`t care if it brings the whole hospital down, this is not to be tolerated. And this hospital, apparently, Jane Velez-Mitchell, has a history of this. And before I get to their history of ignoring patients and letting them die, letting them suffer before they are treated appropriately, how did the sheriff get dragged into this?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the entire city is in an uproar. The Los Angeles County board of supervisors is demanding answers.

GRACE: Didn`t a cop show up and try to arrest the woman?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes.

GRACE: Probation violation, something like that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What happened was that there`s this little kiosk where there are law enforcement. And finally, the desperate boyfriend goes up and demands that the officers in that kiosk do something. They run a check on the woman`s name and come up with the fact that she has an arrest warrant out for some unidentified probation violation, so they go up to her and they put her in custody.

GRACE: Oh, good God in heaven!

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And then they put her in the wheelchair, and they`re driving her, pushing her toward the squad car. And when they get to the squad car, they told the woman get up and she is not responsive. And at that point, they start with the usual resuscitation procedures, and...

GRACE: They give the woman...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... she is dead.

GRACE: ... passed out, the woman`s passed out in the chair. They`re trying to arrest the woman on some ridiculous probation warrant. And they try to put smelling salts up under the dying lady`s nose, OK? This is what happened to her. Smelling salts. They couldn`t even get her into the patrol car.

Out to the lines. Matt in Indiana. Hi, Matt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How`s it going?

GRACE: Matt, I got to tell you something. I`m very distraught. I mean, I know this is somebody I don`t know. It`s in a city where I don`t live. I`ve never seen the hospital, but I`m imaging my mom or my dad or my brother or sister lying there on the emergency room floor while the janitor sweeps around them as blood is coming out of their mouth, and nobody helps them. So I`m a little distraught, Matt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was wondering if there was any kind of -- if it had anything to do with her medical insurance, maybe some kind of priority, whether she had insurance or not?

GRACE: That is a very good question. And I haven`t heard a word about insurance. Do we know any -- not that it should matter, Jane, but is there some issue with her insurance?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t have any information on that, Nancy. But I can tell you this hospital has a very troubled history. There was a man with a brain tumor who was left to languish, allegedly, in the ER, the same emergency room, for four days before his family members finally got fed up, pulled him out against the advice of the hospital, and took him to another hospital, where he immediately underwent surgery. There was also a 19- year-old girl who allegedly wasn`t treated in time. She went blind. She has since filed a lawsuit, and apparently has settled for almost $2 million.

GRACE: I want to tell you something. Jane is absolutely correct. I`ve done a little research on a truck driver who went to this hospital. He had to lay out of work two weeks, couldn`t work, couldn`t get paid, with intense headaches. And he finally goes to this hospital. They do a CAT scan. They say he needs surgery, but they don`t want to perform the surgery and they`re going to transfer him. Instead, they let him languish four days.

Finally, his 9th grade little girl comes and she sees how he is going downhill, goes to school the next day to the guidance counselor. The guidance counselor finally has to come over there, put the man in the car, this desperately ill man in the car, take him to another hospital. They do the CAT scan. There`s a huge brain tumor. And there is such pressure on his head, he`s going blind. They operate that minute to save the man`s life, as he`s been laying over in this hospital all this time.

Mike Brooks, help me out. I know Renee Rockwell says no charges. Has anybody heard of a little involuntary manslaughter charge against this nurse that turned the other cheek that turned away?

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE, SERVED ON FBI TERRORISM TASK FORCE: Well, you`ve got the triage nurse, Nancy. That`s the first one you see when you come into a hospital. My 26 years in law enforcement (INAUDIBLE) emergency medical technician, I know how hospitals work. These kind of things aren`t supposed to happen.

I`ve got a lot of -- a number of other issues with the whole scenario of things, Nancy. Number one, two dispatchers, two calls for police service there at the emergency room. There`s a police officer there. Why didn`t one of the dispatchers contact the police officer there at the office there, have that police officer go out and check on the welfare of this woman? You had two calls for police service, one the woman. She handled it OK. Yes, they`re not going to send paramedics to a hospital. But the second dispatcher, I`ve got a real problem with his attitude, his dismissive attitude. He should have left his attitude at home that day.

GRACE: Well, I`ve got a problem with what you`re saying because you are a former cop, and you`re taking up for the 911 dispatcher.

BROOKS: No, I`m not! I`m not taking up for them, Nancy!

GRACE: They should have done something. It`s their job to answer emergencies!

BROOKS: What I`m saying is, Nancy, they should have done their job and called the cop there to call for police service, instead of being dismissive of these people. I`m not taking up for anybody.

GRACE: Why didn`t they, Mike Brooks?

BROOKS: Good question. That`s my question. And then...

GRACE: Well, maybe they can think about it...

BROOKS: And then the cop...

GRACE: ... while they`re sitting behind bars, waiting for trial.

BROOKS: I agree. Then that cop who was there that had to wheel her to the patrol car -- that doesn`t happen. You know how many nights I spent in D.C. General Hospital with prisoners, waiting for them to get treated after I`d arrest them? They should have waited there with that person until she was treated and then take her to lockup.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My wife is dying, and the nurses don`t want to help her out.

911 OPERATOR: OK, what do you mean, she`s dying? What`s wrong with her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She`s vomiting blood.

911 OPERATOR: OK, and why aren`t they helping her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): OK, they`re watching her. They`re watching her, and they`re just not doing anything. They`re just watching her.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR: What`s your emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a lady on the ground, and we`re in an emergency room at Martin Luther King, and they are overlooking her.

911 OPERATOR: If you`re not pleased with the result you`re getting from them, you know, we can`t...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it`s another patient. (INAUDIBLE) it`s another patient (INAUDIBLE) she`s down, all down on the ground, you know, and they...

911 PERSON: Well, ma`am, I cannot do anything for you for the quality of the hospital there. You understand what I`m saying? This line is for emergency purposes only.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GRACE: The woman died. The janitor swept the floor around her as she lie on the floor dying in the emergency room, while nurses stood by and did nothing. You may not know 43-year-old Edith. I don`t. You may have never heard of the King Harbor Hospital. I have not. But if this were my family that died on the emergency room floor, I don`t care if the hospital fall down around me, we want justice!

Joining us tonight is a very special guest. Her name, Maria Patino. Also with us, Marcie Sanchez. These are the sisters of 43-year-old Edith that died there at the hospital. Out to Maria. What did the hospital say to you after your sister`s death?

MARIA PATINO, SISTER: Well, I called my older siblings. I`m the youngest. They responded right away. I was...

GRACE: Did the hospital say anything to you?

PATINO: No, no.

GRACE: They have not apologized?

PATINO: Nothing. Nothing.

MARCIE SANCHEZ, SISTER: No.

PATINO: Nothing.

GRACE: Marcie Sanchez also with us, also Edith`s sister. How many children does Edith leave behind? How many children did she have?

SANCHEZ: She has two daughters and a son and two grandkids.

GRACE: Tell me about her. Tell me about Edith.

PATINO: Four grandchildren.

SANCHEZ: She was a happy person, very nice, outgoing to people, really kind. She helped -- she always helped people. No matter what conditions they were, She always put herself -- put them in front before herself. That was my sister Edith.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My wife is dying, and the nurses don`t want to help her out.

911 OPERATOR: OK, what do you mean, she`s dying? What`s wrong with her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She`s vomiting blood.

911 OPERATOR: OK, and why aren`t they helping her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): OK, they`re watching her. They`re watching her, and they`re just not doing anything. They`re just watching her.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GRACE: She died there in the emergency room floor, the nurses refusing to treat her. Now the question is who will be hauled off to jail and what are we going to do about it? This is the Martin Luther King Harbor Hospital in one of the biggest cities of the world, LA, right here in our country.

Out to the lines. Sandy in Canada. Hi, Sandy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Love your show. Love you.

GRACE: Thank you, dear. What do you think about this case?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think it`s horrible. But I have two questions...

GRACE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... for you. My first question is, if Mrs. Rodriguez had been to the hospital earlier in the previous case...

GRACE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... had they done any kind of ultrasound or any X-rays or anything like that to see that she had gallbladder stones?

GRACE: Apparently not because they had given her pain medication. But I`ll ask the experts. What`s your second question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My second question is, is in the midst of the illegal immigrants coming in, do you think that that played a factor in her not being addressed for her condition?

GRACE: We`ll be right back with the answers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CALLER: My wife is dying, and the nurses don`t want to help her out.

DISPATCHER: OK, what do you mean she`s dying? What`s wrong with her?

CALLER: She`s vomiting blood.

DISPATCHER: OK, and why aren`t they helping her?

CALLER: OK, they`re watching her, they`re watching her there, and they`re not doing anything. They`re just watching her.

DISPATCHER: What`s your emergency?

CALLER: It`s a lady on the ground in the emergency room at Martin Luther King, and they are overlooking her.

DISPATCHER: If you`re not pleased with the result you`re getting from them, you know, we can`t...

CALLER: It`s another patient. I`m not pleased with the result (INAUDIBLE) she`s down on the ground, you know. And they...

DISPATCHER: Well, ma`am, I cannot do anything for you for the quality of the hospital there. You understand what I`m saying? This line is for emergency purposes only.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: She lied there on the floor of the emergency room, while the janitor swept around her, as she died, never getting medical treatment. I want to go out to Jane Velez-Mitchell to answer Sandy in Canada: Was she illegal?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: No, absolutely not. Nancy, Edith Rodriguez was born in California and has sizeable family here. In fact, they had to wait a month, reportedly, for her funeral services, which occurred yesterday, because they were raising funds and actually selling tamales to raise the $7,500 to give her a proper funeral and burial.

GRACE: I guess when people hear the name "Rodriguez" they just assume, wrongly, that she was illegal and that that`s somehow the reason she didn`t get medical treatment. But let me remind everything, correct me if I`m wrong, Dr. William Morrone, that the Hippocratic oath applies whether the patient is legal or illegal or whether she is a Daughter of the American Revolution, whether you have an insurance card, or you don`t. You are not in this country to lie on the emergency room floor and die while nurses twiddle their thumbs.

DR. WILLIAM MORRONE, MEDICAL EXAMINER: And that also includes whether you have insurance or you don`t have insurance, that`s part of the EMTALA law, and it`s mandated by the federal government. But you cannot separate the previous three treatments or previous three visits. They`re just as important as misdiagnosis, going in the wrong direction, or not giving the right care.

GRACE: Explain.

MORRONE: Well, if you show up -- I have admitted people just like this to the hospital. They come in with an unknown pain. We schedule them for a CAT scan. You`ll find they may have a little bit of an ulcer, but you don`t know how big it is. And I`ve left the hospital and gone home and had the nurse call me and say, "Hey, this guy is vomiting blood, and it`s all over the place." Six minutes, I`m back in the hospital, 30 minutes, I have a surgeon, he`s going off, and he`s getting repaired. That`s the standard of care. Was that standard met in this case?

GRACE: Doctor, how does a gallstone turn into a perforated bowel?

MORRONE: When you have the opportunity to see that pressure in the stomach, as well as acid, doesn`t flow the right way, any irritation in the stomach that goes untreated with the wrong medication can lead to a perforation. It could be pressure, blowing it up like a balloon, or the lack of correct treatment. You want to give acid reducers. You want to give fluids to maintain blood pressure and all these things, and the CAT scan, all this has to be part of the whole analysis.

GRACE: She didn`t have to die, did she?

MORRONE: No, not at all.

GRACE: I`m just sick about it, just sick. When I think that it could be one of my family or one of my staff lying there, getting ignored, the way this lady -- and the other patients, going out on a pay phone and calling 911 for help. Out to the lines, Kim in Maryland. Kim, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Thank you for taking my call.

GRACE: Yes, ma`am.

CALLER: I am a nurse, and I am outraged by this. This gives nursing a bad name. My other question is, can 911 operators be held liable?

GRACE: Excellent question. Let`s unleash the lawyers. Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, Doug Burns, defense attorney in New York, defense attorney Renee Rockwell, Atlanta. What about it, Doug Burns? Can a 911 dispatch operator be held liable? I say yes.

DOUG BURNS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, but on this fact pattern, it`s totally different.

GRACE: Oh, really?

BURNS: Yes, she`s already in the hospital. That`s the problem.

GRACE: So?

BURNS: What you guys are glossing over is the fact that this is a hospital.

GRACE: I`m not glossing over it. To me that makes it even worse, Doug Burns. I don`t know how you can say that with a straight face.

BURNS: This is not a wonderful hospital where, all of a sudden, like a science fiction movie, they refused to treat somebody. This is a hospital laden with serious budgetary problems for years.

GRACE: I don`t care if it`s the Mayo Clinic. It doesn`t matter.

BURNS: No one will be charged with a crime in this case.

GRACE: So where are we supposed to go, Wendy?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Look, the bottom line is, just because 911 operators have a knee-jerk reaction and think that every call they get, what they`re supposed to do is send somebody to the hospital and they get all flummoxed in a case like this because the person is already at the hospital doesn`t mean they`re not going to held liable for making a dumb decision about a desperate situation.

Look, I think the word "Rodriguez" and her ethnicity is also going to raise questions of civil rights violations. The fact that people couldn`t speak English when they were calling 911 and were badly treated -- you know what? Paris Hilton had a probation violation, right, and a headache, and she got delivered by limousine to the princess suite at a hospital. This woman, Edith Rodriguez, had a probation violation, and bleeding to death, and left on the floor.

BURNS: There was a no bail warrant out for her, which was described earlier as some ridiculous warrant.

MURPHY: She was bleeding to death, Doug, bleeding to death.

BURNS: There was a no bail arrest warrant.

MURPHY: I don`t care if she was, you know, waiting for manslaughter charges. No one deserves to drop dead in an emergency room. No one!

GRACE: And another thing to you, Doug Burns, why do you say none of the nurses, none of the staff that stood by and watched her die, they had assumed a duty to take care of her. I`m not through. They had assumed a duty, and you`re saying there`s going to be no criminal charges? That is total B.S. Have you ever heard of the phrase "involuntary manslaughter"? Go look it up in Black`s Dictionary, Burns.

BURNS: I will await your call when and if somebody is charged with a crime. It`s not going to happen.

GRACE: Agree, Wendy?

MURPHY: You know, if ever there was a case where somebody should be charged...

BURNS: Won`t happen.

MURPHY: ... this is recklessness. This is not negligence. This is a higher level of bad behavior. We call that recklessness. That`s when you get the criminal courts involved. It may not happen.

BURNS: Not going to happen.

MURPHY: That doesn`t mean it shouldn`t.

GRACE: I want to go out to the lines, Sabiola in California. Hi, Sabiola.

CALLER: Hi, I live in that area, in the Martin Luther King area. And I believe that this is a triage hospital. That means that the worst cases go there to be treated. Now, if they close this hospital down, what`s going to happen?

GRACE: I don`t know, but should we keep a hospital that lets Edith Rodriguez die, lying in the floor? I don`t know about the hospital going away or staying, but I do know that the nurses that stood by and ignored her need to go to jail. And I`m all for the 911 dispatcher having a little taste of jail time themselves.

I want to go back to the sisters, Maria Patino, Marcie Sanchez. Ladies, thank you for being with me. Back to Maria Patino first, did your sister describe to you the pain that she had been suffering?

MARIA PATINO, SISTER OF WOMAN WHO DIED IN EMERGENCY ROOM: She said she had like upset stomach and stuff. You know, she`s stubborn. When she`s really sick, it`s the only way you`ll see her go to the hospital. Same as my sister, Marcie. She`s stubborn, they`re both like twins.

GRACE: Then to Marcie, isn`t it true that she had been to the hospital several times over intense pain?

MARCIE SANCHEZ, SISTER OF WOMAN WHO DIED IN EMERGENCY ROOM: Prior to that day, she was already gone to the hospital, prior to that date, within April, like the last week of March through May.

(CROSSTALK)

GRACE: Well, what were they telling her? What were they telling her was wrong with her? What were they telling her, Marcie, was wrong with her? What were they saying to her?

SANCHEZ: They were saying that she was -- they didn`t know...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Gall stones.

PATINO: Gall stones.

SANCHEZ: And that was it, and nothing else.

GRACE: And they gave her pain medication.

SANCHEZ: And pain medicines, something like ibuprofen.

GRACE: Ibuprofen?

SANCHEZ: And stool softener.

(CROSSTALK)

GRACE: Ibuprofen? Dr. Morrone, I can get ibuprofen out of my pocketbook right here. Ibuprofen?

(CROSSTALK)

MORRONE: That`s not the worst part. If this was an erosion in the stomach, and she was given high prescription doses of ibuprofen, it makes the erosions worse.

(CROSSTALK)

GRACE: Don`t you bleed more? Oh, god. Dr. Gardere, Jeff Gardere, psychologist, what does this say to people? What does this say to everyone that believes in doctors, and believes in the emergency room, and believes in the police and the 911?

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, it certainly erodes the trust, Nancy. And the other thing that we have to look at is, in this particular case, this hospital, in 2004, they didn`t pass a federal inspection. Los Angeles County ended up yanking the doctors out of there, so this was an accident waiting to happen, and it happened.

GRACE: It`s not an accident! This is involuntary manslaughter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a picture of Stepha Henry taken at Club Peppers in Sunrise, May 29th, the same day the woman visiting from New York went missing. Take another look. This is what Stepha was wearing, a white tank top, black jumper, holding a brown purse. Her family wants her home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) every time the door opens (INAUDIBLE) It`s not like Stepha to stay out a day, if at all. If she`s out again this late, then (INAUDIBLE) call us and say, "Mom, I`ll be coming home now," because she`s know I`m very worried. I`m very worried.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: These flyers everywhere. Now, where is Stepha? This 22-year- old honor grad, headed to law school, her dream of becoming a lawyer, goes out with friends while vacationing in Florida, never seen again. Can you help us find this American beauty?

Straight out to Eben Brown, reporter with News Radio 970 WFLA. What`s the latest, Eben?

EBEN BROWN, NEWSRADIO 970 WFLA: Stepha Henry is still missing. She flew to south Florida on vacation with her younger sister. They were going to celebrate the younger sister`s birthday by attending a rock concert. They were going to stay with some family in the Miami area.

After the concert, little sister stays home. Stepha goes out with a friend, gets to the club, but never is seen again. That friend is questioned by police, but is listed as not being a suspect, and no one can find the car that she was seen getting into with the friend heading to the club. It`s got police a little bit baffled right now.

GRACE: Well, I`ll tell you, Mike Brooks, why they`re saying he`s not a suspect, the guy that gave her a ride, is because she was then spotted on video camera inside the bar restaurant. She made it there fine, where he says he dropped her off. What do police do now, Mike Brooks?

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE: Well, Nancy, that`s a great picture from inside the club, and apparently some promotional pictures, but they need to go back, because most clubs and bars now have some kind of video surveillance both inside and outside. They need to take a look at all of the people who were around there, talk to around her at the time of the picture, then have the bartenders and the bouncers and everyone who were regular employees there, ask them, do they recognize anyone there? Do they recognize anyone as being a regular? If not, try to go back and try to identify these people, put their pictures out there as people who might be involved in this.

GRACE: Joining us right now from Miami, the Miami-Dade Police Department, Nelda Fonticiella. Ma`am, thank you for being with us.

DET. NELDA FONTICIELLA, MIAMI-DADE P.D.: Good evening.

GRACE: Tell me about the search for this girl. How can we help? And what are you guys doing?

FONTICIELLA: Well, at this point, the investigators are looking for a four-door Acura Integra. We don`t have a license plate on it. We don`t have any information. We know that, at some point in the evening, Stepha Henry was in this vehicle. We are asking anyone who has information to contact us.

There were a lot of people down in south Florida for Memorial Day weekend. We had a lot of people from out of town here. So we want to put the word out nationally that we were looking for Stepha. Anybody that has information should contact us.

GRACE: With us from Miami-Dade police, Nelda Fonticiella. Could you explain to me, if this guy is not a person of interest, and you have the shot that we`re showing where she made it into the club just fine, why do you still want the car that dropped her off?

FONTICIELLA: Well, we feel that this is a piece of the puzzle that we`d like to take a look at. We did speak with the acquaintance that took her to the club. He told us that he left her there and that she stayed late. We don`t know at what time she left. We don`t know who she left with.

GRACE: Have you spoken to the friends that she was with in the club?

FONTICIELLA: We have spoken to several people at the club. We, again, there were a lot of people. This was a promotional party. This isn`t a club that they were having a regular night where the regulars might be there. There were people there for this specific party, so we`re asking people that did attend this party to please give us a call. They might have some information that may not seem important to them but would be important for our case.

GRACE: That tip line, 305-471-TIPS, that`s Crimestoppers. Joining me right now are two very special guests. I want you to meet Steve and Sylvia Henry. These are Stepha`s parents.

Thank you for being with us. First to you, Steve, when was the last time you spoke to your daughter?

STEVE HENRY, PARENT OF MISSING STEPHA HENRY: Tuesday before she left for Miami.

GRACE: And wasn`t she down there with relatives, with people that she knew?

STEVE HENRY: Yes, she was with her aunt. She stayed with her aunt in Miami.

GRACE: And what day was it that she went missing, Steve?

STEVE HENRY: The 29th.

GRACE: So you spoke to her on Thursday. How many days after that did she go missing?

STEVE HENRY: Could you repeat that question?

GRACE: Right. How many days since you spoke to her did she go missing?

STEVE HENRY: Fourteen.

GRACE: So you spoke to her on Tuesday the 29th, correct?

STEVE HENRY: Yes.

GRACE: Last seen also, Tuesday, May 29th, that evening at Peppers Cafe, Sunrise, Florida, everyone, wearing a black jumper dress, white tank top underneath, brown heels, and a brown clutch purse.

Sylvia Henry, her mom, is also with us. Ms. Henry, thank you for being with us. Your daughter wanted to go to law school, correct, Ms. Henry?

SYLVIA HENRY, PARENT OF MISSING STEPHA HENRY: Yes, she wanted to go to law school.

GRACE: Why?

SYLVIA HENRY: Because she liked everything to do with the criminal part of it. She`s doing the LSAT review program right now so that she could finish it to get into law school for next year.

GRACE: And she had excellent grades.

SYLVIA HENRY: Yes, she was a graduate with honors at the John Jay College in Manhattan.

GRACE: Yes, that`s right around the corner from our studios. Ms. Henry, when was the last time you got to speak to Stepha?

SYLVIA HENRY: I spoke to her on a Monday night before she left her aunt`s house to go to Peppers.

GRACE: What did she say?

SYLVIA HENRY: She said that she was going out that night with some friends.

GRACE: Did you have any reason to be concerned?

SYLVIA HENRY: Yes, ma`am, I`m very concerned.

GRACE: No, at that time, at that time, when she told you she was going out with her friends, wasn`t everything OK?

SYLVIA HENRY: Yes.

GRACE: Is this like her at all? Has she ever disappeared like this before?

SYLVIA HENRY: Never. She`s never disappeared. She always keeps in touch with us when she`s outside. She always calls. She loves to pick up her cell phone and call me and let me know if she has any problems with transportation, she calls, and someone from the house goes and gets her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Miami-Dade detectives tell us they suspect foul play.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was last seen outside there in this vehicle. Again, it`s a four-door Acura Integra, and we have decided this is a vehicle of interest, and we`d like to locate it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: This honor grad is missing. Where is Stepha Henry? Out to the lines, Stacy in North Carolina, hi, Stacy.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy. I have a question.

GRACE: OK.

CALLER: They answered one question. She does have a cell phone. Is there any way that they can track the cell phone or anybody calling her, like they did with Kelsey Smith?

GRACE: It`s my understanding, Stacey, that they have been tracking the cell phone and the last ping they`re getting is right around the club. Out to Renee Rockwell, the car, police seem to be very interested in this car. And the guy that was driving, it can`t seem to account for where it was. Why are they focusing on the car, Renee?

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, without any other leads, they want to know, I`m sure, if there`s any forensics in that car, so they`re not going to be bale to find out unless they have access to the car.

GRACE: But the other thing is, they say she`s last seen in the car, but then she`s in the club. Do they suspect she left in that car, Renee?

ROCKWELL: And that`s probably what they want to find out. Nancy, sometimes they`ll ask -- for example, the young man, they may ask him a question and they already know the answer, so they want to know what he`s saying. They`re maybe going to check his cell phone against hers.

GRACE: And, Mike Brooks, that last ping was around the bar where she was checking her voice mail, or we think so, around 4:15 a.m. Nothing after that.

BROOKS: Nothing after that, Nancy. Apparently that was at that cell site right near Peppers club there, right near in Lauderhill. And it`s going right to voice mail now. So that either means that the battery is dead or the phone`s turned off.

GRACE: Mike Brooks, thank you for being with us.

Let`s stop, everyone, to remember Army Sergeant Steven Packer, 23, Clovis, California, killed, Iraq. Dreamed of enlisting as a boy, on a third tour, he gave his life trying to rescue other U.S. soldiers. Wanted to go to college and move into a new home with a high school sweetheart, he leaves behind brother, Robin, stepdad, Mark, three brothers, sister Danielle, and fiancee Stacey. Steven Packer, American hero.

Thanks to our guests, but most of all to you. And tonight, happy birthday to my sister-in-law, Jan. Happy birthday over the airwaves. I wish I could be there with you tonight for birthday cake.

See you tomorrow night, everybody, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.

END

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