State investigating allegation of incompetence, negligence, or malpractice against San Juan Island EMS Chief

Two complaints against San Juan Emergency Medical Services (SJ EMS) Chief Jerry Martin are under investigation by the state Department of Health. One is "failure to comply with the continuing education requirements in accordance with WAC 246-12-190 and 246-12-200" and the other "complaint alleges incompetence, negligence, or malpractice."

Chief Martin was informed by a letter dated November 7, 2018 about the continuing education requirements investigation. A letter dated November 26, 2018 informed him of the  incompetence, negligence, or malpractice allegations. 

Martin shared the information with San Juan County Public Hospital District #1 Board Chair Dr. Michael Edwards. Edwards chose not to inform the rest of the board.

Commissioners Dr. Warren Appleton and Anna Lisa Lindstrum were upset when they found out about the existence of the investigations from a citizen, Richard Grout,  during the public comment section of the PHD board's meeting on December 19, 2018. 

Dr. Geyman, who was in the audience,  asked, "Did I hear that these two civil complaints have not been seen by the board."

"We have. Chief Martin did email them to the board. We got it.  It went to the board." said Commissioner Rebecca Smith. 

"I haven't seen them," said Appleton.

"I haven't seen them," said Lindstrum.

The fifth commissioner, Dr. Mark Schwinge didn't say whether he was aware of the investigations or not. 

Edwards said, "Well I've seen. But what was received wasn't explanatory whatsoever. It is basically very cryptic. It is probably canned rhetoric - we have assigned an investigator who will talk to you about the issues at hand. Nothing for the board to consider at this point in time."

Lindstrum said, "But you made the decision for the board? It lacks transparency."

Edwards said, "I'd be happy to share it with you. Again, if there is nothing to see, there is nothing to see."

Audience member, Karin Agosta asked, "Doesn't it occur to you when  notice of some sort of civil complaint from the Department of Health comes to you, you investigate it. You  go to the Chief and you say what's going on, what  is this about? That is one of the responsibilities of the commissioners to know what is going on." 

Edwards said, "The buck stops here as Truman said in terms of the chair. I was put on notice. I talked to Chief Martin. There was nothing to discuss. That is the point I am trying to make. It was very cryptic. Until the investigator shows up we have nothing to really consider as a board."

Grout said, "And I'm hearing two commissioners say they've seen it. You, as chair, and Commissioner Smith." 

"I didn't see it, Chief Martin told me it was there, I'm sorry," said Smith contradicting her previous statement that Martin had emailed the letter to the entire board.

Grout said, "I am hearing two commissioners say they haven't seen anything.  My view is the same as Karin's. This is of enough significance that I cannot imagine why you would simply judge for yourself  they don't need to see it and not pass it on to everyone."

Edwards said, "As I said, there is nothing to see."

Grout said, "You are making a judgment and depriving the other commissioners who are representing all of us of the opportunity to make their own decision and judgment." 

"I am not trying to make the decision for. There is nothing to consider until the investigator shows up. I asked the pointed question to Chief Martin. He had no clue other than just conjecture as to what it is all about. Once we have something in hand that we can consider we will certainly do so. I am not playing a game of hide and seek. It's filtered typically through the chair. If there is nothing to see and consider, then what are you updating?"

Appleton asked, "Has our insurance company been informed that there are two investigations?"

Edwards asked Martin who he had shared the letters with. 

Martin said he had shared them with Edwards and the district's attorney Richard Davis.

Edwards told Martin to give the PHD Superintendent copies of the letters for her to disperse to all five board members. 

A recording of the December 19, 2018 meeting is available on the PHD's website

The PHD will hold a special meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday, January 10 and its regular meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday, January 23 in the Frank Wilson EMS Building in Friday Harbor. 


TEXT OF NOVEMBER 7, 2018 LETTER: 

November 7, 2018

JERRY V MARTIN
PO BOX 3191
FERNDALE, WA 98248
Case Number: 2018-1521 0ES

Dear Jerry V. Martin:

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the Emergency Medical and Trauma Prevention of the Department of Health has initiated a complaint against you for your failure to comply with the continuing education requirements in accordance with WAC 246-12-190 and 246-12-200. This notice is being made in compliance with RCW 18.130.095.

RCW 18.130.050 .. .THE UNIFORM DISCIPLINARY ACT. .. provides that the Emergency Medical and Trauma Prevention of the Department of Health have the legislated authority to investigate complaints against health care providers. The complaint received against you has been reviewed and it has been determined that the allegations at issue fall within the jurisdiction of the Emergency Medical and Trauma Prevention of the Department of Health.

Your case is being assigned to the following investigator:

Mike A. Friebel, Health Care Investigator
Office of Investigative and Legal Services
20425 72nd Avenue South, Suite 310
Kent, WA 98032
Phone: (253) 395-6712 FAX: (253) 872-6803
Email: Michael.Friebel@doh.wa.gov


You may submit a written statement and any supporting documentation concerning the complaint at any time, to the investigator listed above. Any statement(s) submitted will be placed in the complaint file. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Respectfully,

Tina Crawford
Health Services Consultant


TEXT OF NOVEMBER 26, 2018 LETTER: 

November 26, 2018

JERRY V MARTIN 
PO BOX 3191 
FERNDALE, WA 98248 


Case Number: 2018-16127ES

Dear Jerry V. Martin:

The Office of Emergency Medical and Trauma Prevention within the Department of Health have received a complaint alleging unprofessional conduct on your part as defined in RCW 18.130.180. The complaint alleges incompetence, negligence, or malpractice. This notice is required by RCW 18.130.095.

The Uniform Disciplinary Act provides Office of Emergency Medical and Trauma Prevention with the authority to investigate complaints against health care providers under RCW 18.130.050. The Office of Emergency Medical and Trauma Prevention have reviewed the complaint. The issues fall within its jurisdiction and the Board/Program authorized an investigation to gather the facts in this matter.

Washington State law requires that we notify you that a complaint has been filed. The investigator will contact you as soon as practical and at that time, all issues pertaining to your case will be discussed as fully as allowed by law. Your case has been assigned to:
Mike A. Friebel, Health Care Investigator

Office of Investigative and Legal Services
20425 72nd Avenue South, Suite 310
Kent, WA 98032
Phone: (253) 395-6712 FAX: (253) 872-6803
Email: Michael.Friebel@doh.wa.gov

You may submit a written statement about the complaint at any time to the investigator listed above. It is important to note that a written statement may be used in any adjudicative proceedings. However, you may choose to wait to submit a written statement until you are contacted by the investigator and you have had the chance to discuss the complaint. You may consult with and engage an attorney, at your expense, to represent you in this matter prior to making a written statement. If you wish to have an attorney represent you, please have the attorney send us a Letter of Representation at the address above. The Letter of Representation will allow us to speak with him or her, if necessary, about the complaint against you and ensure they are copied on any correspondence to you.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Respectfully,

Tina Crawford
Health Services Consultant

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