Murder Trial Day 5: CHRISTUS nurse testifies there was ‘little to no reason’ for Davis to be in patient’s room
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - 4:30 p.m. - Lacy Simpson, a nurse at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances, took the stand.
At the time, she was a nurse in training under Ben Rasberry.
She said Rasberry gave nurses a lot of latitude if they showed competence. She also said Kalina was oriented four times and his pupils were normal.
Everything normal the night of Kalina’s downturn. She said they were having no problems taking care of patients. She said there was no request from Rasberry or Simpson to have William Davis help with Kalina that evening before Kalina went into decline, meaning there was little to no reason for Davis to be in his room.
She said a low heart rate is what set off Kalina’s alarm. Davis claims Kalina was experiencing an upstream occlusion and that is why he went in.
Simpson said they expected Davis to come help as he was not tending to his own patients when Kalina declined.
Simpson was asked if Davis was helping with anything that needed to be done with Mr. Kalina? Simpson said he was not.
Simpson said Davis claimed Kalina asked him what alarm was going off and why. The prosecution asked “Is it typical for a patient sedated and wearing a bipap to ask, ‘Hey what’s that beeping?’” Simpson answered “No.”
2:34 p.m. - An anesthesiologist who treated Chris Greenaway took the stand.
He said Greenaway had gone through an uneventful surgery and was healthy. He had three bypasses, off-pump trip bypass.
The Defense asked how do we know air in the brain didn’t get there during surgery? The anesthesiologist said if air had gotten into his brain they would never have woken him up.
The prosecution asked, in 37 years, had they ever heard of this amount of air in arterial spaces of the brain? The anesthesiologist said no.
1:56 p.m. - Chelette was back on the stand for questioning from the Defense following lunch on Monday.
Defense attorney Phillip Hayes asked Chelette if Kalina’s medical outcome would have been different if Davis had notified other caregivers about the flushing of the line. Chelette said she doesn’t know if it would have been.
The Defense pointed out that it’s not impossible to have a conversation with someone on BiPAP.
Chelette had testified earlier on Monday that she was present for police interviews with caregivers. The defense asked if she had known what the caregivers were going to say based on previous hospital interviews.
“It sounded like you at least had an idea of what they were going to say,” Hayes said. Chelette disagreed.
Defense said when they reached out to some hospital employees, hospital lawyers called and said they told them they must go through them.
Hayes said a letter was sent over the summer saying hospital employees could talk to the defense, but advised they bring an attorney. Chelette said she had seen the letter.
Defense asked if the hospital was there to “make money.” Chelette said that’s incorrect and when asked, said the hospital was a non-profit.
11:43 a.m. - An audio recording of a meeting between Jason Proctor, Deb Chelette, and William Davis is played for the jury. Davis could be heard on the recording giving his account of the situation.
On the recording, Davis said Kalina asked Davis to check his line, saying it was bothering him. Davis claimed there was some blood in his arterial line. Chelette said it would have been challenging to have a conversation with a patient on a BiPAP and Precedex, like Kalina had. Chelette said the BiPAP mask could have made it difficult to look below and see the line.
Davis explained how he flushed the line on the recording. Chelette said the process he explained would not have allowed air into the arterial line. Davis said Kalina didn’t say anything further or complain following the flushing. Chelette said there was an expectation for that type of action to be relayed to other staff.
Chelette said there had been an “extreme” amount of training related to arterial lines.
When it comes to the crashing of the patient, Davis’ claim on the recording that “we” got the intubation kit was inconsistent with the security camera footage shown to the jury. The video showed another worker taking the kit down the hall while Davis watched.
On the recording, Chelette asked Davis how fast he was at Kalina’s bedside as he crashed. Davis said he went down there immediately. Security camera video showed Davis standing at the end of the hall not immediately responding.
Chelette said on the stand that she was “very distressed” about the inconsistent account of events that Davis was sharing in their recorded conversation.
In the recording, Chelette asks about similar past incidents. The case of a Chris Greenaway from August 2017 is then brought up.
10 a.m. - Upstream occlusion was the cause of Kalina’s alarm, Davis said to them in the meeting.
Chelette did not reveal to Davis that she had already reviewed security camera video. Chelette said Davis was very calm during the meeting. Only thing that led her to believe he was anxious was that he almost left his backpack, she said.
Chelette said Davis’ lack of immediate response and him not revealing being in the patient’s room had Chelette concerned. She said she felt he was not telling the truth.
“Very, very concerned at that point,” she said.
Davis was suspended with pay while they investigated the situation, Chelette said.
Chelette said Davis texted her that Sunday morning around 5 a.m. asking her to reach out to him. He said he had additional information that he wanted to share. Several phone calls were made between Chelette and Davis in the days following the incident. All of them recorded, Putman said.
The recordings of phone conversations were played in court. The audio quality was somewhat difficult to make out.
In one recording, Davis had asked Chelette if he was the only worker suspended. Davis was also asked in the recording by Chelette to not discuss the situation with other employees. Chelette could be heard on the recording reminding Davis that HR was available if he needed to speak with someone.
“It’s a confidential process to protect the associate,” Chelette said on the witness stand.
Davis could be heard in the recordings discussing that day. Davis said he saw blood in the patient’s arterial line and attempted to flush it. This was different from what Davis had initially told them, Chelette said.
Davis emailed his version of the conversation with Chelette and Proctor to Chelette. The email was presented as evidence and shown to the jury.
In the letter, Davis said he had a brief conversation with Kalina when the IV alarm was sounding. Chelette said Davis claimed initially he had not had a conversation with Kalina because Kalina was wearing a BiPAP mask.
Davis’ email also recapped a phone call on Jan. 28, 2018 between he and Chelette. Davis claimed he told Chelette in a phone call that he feared revealing that he touched the arterial line during the situation. He feared backlash, he stated in the email recapping the phone call with Chelette.
Chelette said this version of events told by Davis differed from initial statements. Although, she said his recap of the phone call conversation was accurate for the most part.
Chelette said hospital management ultimately reached a decision that they were planning to set up a meeting with the district attorney’s office and police department. Chelette was present for several police interviews with members of her team, Putman said.
9 a.m. -The fifth day of the trial of a former East Texas nurse got underway Monday.
William Davis, 37, of Hallsville, is accused of injecting air into the arterial lines of patients at a Tyler heart hospital, killing at least two people and injuring several others. Davis was arrested in April 2018. At the time, he was a registered nurse at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler.
Monday, Deb Chelette, of CHRISTUS, was on the stand testifying about the security camera video reviewed by the jury last week.
“My gut told me that something was not right,” she said about watching the video after Joseph Kalina had crashed. “I had a sick feeling in my stomach.”
Chelette, who at the time was the Associate VP of the Louis and Peaches Owens Heart Hospital, said she saw Will Davis entering Kalina’s room on the video. She said he had something in his hand and then saw him exit the room. Activity then started as the patient crashed. Davis was at the end of the hall, but didn’t respond to that activity.
“There is useful information about those few minutes leading up to that event,” she said about Davis’ lack of response to the situation.
After reviewing the video all day, she contacted Jason Proctor, the hospital’s chief executive officer. She contacted him while heading home. Chris Glenney, the regional director, was also contacted.
“I couldn’t go into the night knowing there could be potential risks to other patients,” Chelette said. “If something wrong had happened with Mr. Kalina, I didn’t want it to happen to another patient.”
Hospital leadership told her that Davis needed to be immediately pulled off the floor. They also said Davis needed to be contacted and meet with them. Proctor and Chelette met with Davis at the hospital.
They told Davis they had concern with unexpected outcomes. At some point following the meeting, Chelette typed up a summary of the conversation. Meeting audio and video was not recorded.
Davis told them he had gone into the room to silence the IV pump. Said he heard the alarm sounding. Davis told them he had silenced the alarm and left the room in a matter of seconds.
When asked about Kalina going into distress, Davis claimed he had responded and helped manage the patient’s airway.
Putman pointed out that the video shows Davis responding at some point. Chelette said that happened five minutes later.
“Five minutes can be somebody’s life,” she said.
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