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Woman dies after slamming hand in car door, husband sues hospital for negligence

A man is suing CHI Mercy Medical Center, Umpqua Orthopedics and two doctors for alleged negligence that led to his wife’s death four days after she shut her hand in a car door in 2017.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Douglas County Circuit Court on June 29 by Allan Kusler, seeks up to $1.2 million in economic and noneconomic damages.

The complaint alleges that Marilyn Kusler went to CHI Mercy Medical Center on July 9, 2017, after shutting her hand in a car door the day before.

Her right thumb was swollen and bruised and Marilyn Kusler complained of lightheadedness, according to a copy of the lawsuit. The emergency department doctor diagnosed her with mild dehydration and discharged her, according to court documents.

The following morning Marilyn Kusler was confused and agitated so her husband called 911 around 9:30 a.m.

Around 3:40 p.m. a doctor examined Marilyn Kusler’s thumb and noted it “had dark discoloration and a laceration oozing blood,” according to court documents.

The doctor was suspicious that Marilyn Kusler might have been suffering from necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease, according to court documents.

Marilyn Kusler was admitted into the intensive care unit for a urinary tract infection, septic shock, renal failure and acute metabolic encephalopathy, or abnormalities in chemicals that affect brain function.

Around 5 p.m., Nicholes Sexton, an orthopedic surgeon, evaluated Marilyn Kusler. He put her thumb in a splint and said he would check on her the next day, according to court documents.

Two hours later, Razvan Gosman, a doctor at Mercy Medical Center, charted that he could not get Kusler’s blood pressure. Gosman stated that Kusler’s “severely injured right thumb” could be the source of sepsis, according to court documents.

The suit alleges that Mercy staff failed to monitor Kusler’s thumb during the night and didn’t report her vital signs to a doctor. On July 11, Kusler’s right arm was reported to be cold and swollen.

Doctor Susan Williams consulted with specialists at Oregon Health and Science University, who recommended surgery, according to court documents.

After surgery, Kusler was flown to OHSU where multiple surgeons operated on her, amputating her right arm and removing infectious tissue from her chest wall. According to court documents, her condition deteriorated overnight and she died on July 12.

The suit alleges that the defendants were negligent by failing to timely diagnose necrotizing fasciitis, by failing to properly treat the disease and by failing to transfer her to OHSU in a timely manner.

The family is seeking $1 million in non-economic damages and $200,750 for medical costs, funeral expenses and loss of services.

Representatives for Mercy declined to comment.

Derek Johnson, Allan Kusler’s attorney, did not return calls in time for deadline.

PartnerSports Camp pairs off those with and without disabilities for fun in the sun

When Camille Dela Cruz heard about the PartnerSports Camp two years ago, her mother encouraged her to go.

The 15 year old from Roseburg said that her cousin has a mental disability, and that the camp was an opportunity for her to better understand those like him. The camp pairs students with and without disabilities in a variety of activities including swimming, basketball, hiking, golfing, fishing and more.

The goal of the buddy system is to help students gain experience interacting with those who are different than them, and to provide students with special needs a chance to participate in activities they may not be able to otherwise.

Dela Cruz and other students from throughout Douglas County met at the YMCA of Douglas County in Roseburg for capture the flag or time in the pool.

“We want them to be healthier, we want them to build meaningful relationships,” Camp Director Ryan Jephson said about the program. “It’s building relationships with other people, taking you outside of your comfort zone, providing healthy meals and excellent time to make friends.”

Dela Cruz said that the camp has helped her in understanding those who are different than her, like her cousin. The camp has also given her the chance to make friends with students from all over the county.

“I’m not much of a social person, overall,” Dela Cruz said. “And so I think this camp really helps me open up more. Like, I’ve made a lot of friends already and it’s only the first day.”

This is the second year Mason Hinson, of Roseburg, 14, has participated in the camp. He said he loves the camp’s activities and believes the camp is helping him to better understand how to work with those who have disabilities.

“You have to figure out what they need, you have to kind of adapt to that. If they need a break, then you have to break with them,” Hinson said. “You just have to learn to be more considerate.”

Susan Acree is one of the adult volunteers at the camp. Her daughter, Taylor Acree, has special needs, is wheelchair bound and was a camper in the first PartnerSports Camp back in 2005. Acree has been volunteering with the camp ever since retiring back in 2014.

“It’s just a life-changing experience for them,” Acree said about the camp. “And just to see them grow and the smiles on the campers faces, it’s just really rewarding.”

Thirteen years ago, the program was called Camp Shriver, named after Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy and a huge supporter of the Special Olympics. The camp was one of six across the nation and the only one on the western side of the Mississippi River, Acree said. To her knowledge, the camp in Roseburg is the only one of the six still going on to this day.

The camp, coordinated by the Douglas Education Service District and the YMCA of Douglas County, is five hours a day, four days a week, over two weeks. The camp’s last day has a graduation ceremony and includes ice cream and events where campers can earn medals.

“Today’s been an awesome day,” said Jephson, the camp director. “And I only see it getting better and better and better.”

Commissioner candidates report who's donating to their campaigns

Waldron’s Outdoor Sports store owner Tom Kress is far outpacing his competitors in fundraising for the November Douglas County commissioner election.

Kress has so far raised $32,070 toward the campaign. His nearest challenger is Army National Guard veteran Alek Skarlatos, who has so far raised $12,450.

The only other candidate among the six vying for Gary Leif’s former seat on the commission who has reported campaign earnings to date is Marine veteran Jeremy Salter, who has raised $3,084.

Daniel Loomis, an Army veteran in the race, has filed a campaign committee with the state, but so far reported no funds raised.

Two candidates, marijuana store owner James Hoyt and Navy veteran Richard Vander Velden, have not filed campaign committees with the state. In their filings with the Douglas County Clerk’s Office, Hoyt said he did not plan to raise $750, the threshold for mandatory reporting with the Oregon Secretary of State, while Vander Velden indicated he does plan to file a campaign committee.

So, for those candidates that are raking in the dollars, who’s backing them?

The top contributors to Kress’s campaign are David and Kelley Trinchero, each of whom donated $10,000. Kress also received a $5,000 contribution from Redbell Plastics and $3,000 from Sprinter Trailer, along with smaller contributions from Mark Jones Trucking, William Bayliss and Patty and Joe Waldron. The Kress campaign has also taken in $470 in small individual contributions of $100 or less.

As for Skarlatos, he’s got the backing of state Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Winston, who gave him a $2,500 loan for the campaign. Robert Armstrong gave $2,500 to the campaign, with smaller contributions coming from Elin Miller, Rick Campbell and Rebecca O’Neill. Former commissioner Mike Winters donated $200. Skarlatos’s campaign has also brought in $350 in small individual donations under $100.

The largest contribution to Salter’s campaign so far has been a $1,000 contribution from Guadalupe Preciado-McAlister. He’s also received smaller contributions from Stacey Hawks, Teresa Mankin and Victoria Hawks. His individual cash contributors paying less than $100 are at $750.

It’s still early in election season. Candidates have until Aug. 28 to file for commissioner, so there could be more candidates to come yet, and it’s likely the funds will continue to pour in as well.

Legislative candidates report campaign earnings

When it comes to campaign fundraising, the Republican candidates for state Senate District 1 and House District 2 are ahead of their Democratic challengers.

Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Winston, and Rep. Gary Leif, R-Roseburg, are both holding their posts as interim legislators, and will carry an incumbent advantage into the general election, both having been nominated by the Republican Party. Their districts, which both include Roseburg, have heavily Republican electorates.

Leif, a longtime photographer and former county commissioner, is running against county commissioner candidate Jeremy Salter’s wife, Megan Salter, a former preschool teacher and stay-at-home mom who is the Democratic nominee. Megan Salter has so far this year raised $2,947 compared with Leif’s $7,153.

Leif’s contributions this year include $1,000 from the Douglas County Physicians PAC, $528 from the Committee to Elect Roger Hartman Assessor, $750 from Richard Sohn, $500 from Sweetwater, $1,000 from Ireland LLC, $500 from Karen Gibbons, $2,000 from Dallas Heard’s father Dick Heard, $250 from Don Whitaker Logging & Hauling, and $250 from Brian Heinze.

Megan Salter’s contributions this year so far include $1,000 from Guadalupe Preciado-McAlister, $500 from Sara Byers, $200 from Stacey Hawks, $200 from Heather Faldalen and $250 from Kristen McFall.

Heard’s competitor is Coos Bay businesswoman Shannon Souza, the Democratic nominee for House District 1 on the Southern Oregon Coast. She has raised $11,086 to Heard’s $20,871.

Heard is the former state representative for House District 2, who stepped up to the senate after former senator Jeff Kruse resigned. He runs a local landscaping business. Souza is an engineer, environmental consultant and the owner of Sol Coast Consulting and Design, a Coos Bay company that specializes in solar energy, sustainable construction, weatherization and environmentally compliant engineering.

Heard has some out-of-state business backing, including $1,000 from Koch Industries, $1,000 from PhRMA Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and $500 from Kroger. He’s also received $500 from Jordan Cove, which is part of a natural gas pipeline project that’s been controversial in his senate district.

Other Heard campaign donors included Douglas County Physician’s PAC at $1,000, Sprinter Trailer at $2,500, and the Oregon Council of NECA Chapters (an electrical contractors’ association) at $1,000. The Heard campaign also received $500 each from the Osteopathic PAC, Iron Workers District Council of the Pacific Northwest, Coalition for a Healthy Oregon, Building Trades PAC, Portland General Electric Employee Candidate Assistance Fund, PAC/West Communications and Avista Corp. The American Council of Engineering Companies Oregon PAC gave $250.

Individual donors to Heard’s campaign include Robert and Nancy Armstrong, who each donated $1,250, and John Adams, who donated $1,500.

Souza’s campaign contributions this year have been from individuals rather than businesses. They include $250 from state House District 9 Rep. Caddy McKeown, D-Coos Bay; $3,000 from David Basset; $1,000 from Calla Felicity; $250 from Dennis Triglia; $500 each from Gregory McClarren, Erin Santana, Carl King and Jamie Fereday; $200 each from David Ford and David Tilton; and $101 from Nathan Soltz.

Each of the legislative candidates has also collected smaller donations. Campaign donations under $100 aren’t listed by name.