Brief Cases

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Dr. Lorna M. Breen, the medical director of the emergency department at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, committed suicide in Charlottesville, where she was staying with family, reported her father, also a physician. The elder Dr. Breen said that his daughter had described devastating scenes of the toll the coronavirus took on patients. “She tried to do her job, and it killed her,” he said.

Dr. Breen had contracted the coronavirus herself but had gone back to work after recuperating for about a week and a half. The hospital sent her home again, before her family intervened to bring her to Charlottesville. NewYork-Presbyterian Allen is a 200-bed hospital in upper Manhattan that at times had as many as 170 patients with COVID-19; as of April 7, there had been 59 patient deaths at the hospital, according reports.

Dr. Lawrence A. Melniker, the vice chair for quality care at the New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, said “You don’t get to a position like that at Allen without being very talented.” He went on, “Doctors are accustomed to responding to all sorts of grisly tragedies. But rarely do they have to worry about getting sick themselves, or about infecting their colleagues, friends and family members. And rarely do they have to treat their own co-workers.

The COVID death toll strikes some beyond infection, including families. It knows no boundaries or distance.


Does springtime equal gun play time in PWC?

On April 26, a Woodbridge man was arrested after telling police he shot himself in the leg while preparing to store his gun. The incident was among several involving the reckless handling of firearms that occurred over the weekend, according to police. In another incident, a man fired a round through his camper and into a neighbor’s unoccupied camper. The individual was arrested and charged with reckless handling of a firearm. 

Later that weekend, a homeowner reported hearing a gunshot in the area; the homeowner later located a hole in a bedroom wall and damage to a closet door. In another incident, police determined that unknown people were involved in an argument that resulted in the discharge of guns. The suspects fled the scene before police arrived. Yet again, a male juvenile was arguing with the occupants of a car when the argument escalated and the juvenile “brandished a firearm and fired multiple rounds towards the vehicle,” police said. The juvenile ran from the area in an unknown direction and the vehicle left the scene.

Is it something in the water? Or are there perhaps just too many guns?


D&H Mining, a Grundy (VA)-based coal company, its owner, and a foreman pleaded guilty last week in U.S. District Court in Abingdon to conspiring to defraud the United States by cheating on underground coal mine dust sampling procedures. According to the US Attorney prosecuting the case, “Coal mining, by its nature, is a hazardous occupation, and federal health and safety laws play a critical role in reducing the dangers miners face on a daily basis.” D&H also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Mine Act for willfully allowing miners to conduct roof-bolting in “return air” in violation of the mine’s approved ventilation plan.

According to a plea agreement, the company, the mine’s owner, and the foreman will pay $80,000 as a criminal fine within 60 days of the plea. They will be sentenced August 11.

This is the third occasion that VoxFairfax has commented upon the shabby treatment of coal miners in SW Virginia, and the flouting of safety regulations in the region. See and How many deaths will it take till we know too many people have died?

One wonders at the abject disregard for employee safety on the part of mine operators. And at the desperation miners must feel in continuing their dangerous jobs every day.


Categories: coronavirus, Health Care, Issues, Local, National, State

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