This last month we were shocked and saddened to learn of the arrest of Andrew Bourne, M.D., who was Mammoth Hospital’s preeminent General and Vascular Surgeon. As we started to come to grips with this event we were aghast to learn of his death. It’s hard to describe the wide range of emotions that our staff, physicians, and volunteers experienced. Many people worked closely with him throughout the hospital, especially those in Surgery, Recovery, the Nursing Units, the Emergency Department, the Surgical Clinic, or just having lunch and chatting with him in the Cares Café. Somehow they were able to reach down inside of themselves and continue to provide excellent care to our residents and visitors. I am proud of each and every member of our staff and am fortunate to work with such caring, talented, and strong individuals.
There are many people I want to thank who helped us get through this trauma. Audrey Pauley M.D. was on her fourth day as the Chief of Staff when this story broke. She has tirelessly met with staff and physicians, rounded on the departments night and day, and made sure everyone was getting the support they needed. She even knocked on my door one late evening to make sure my wife and I were OK. Lynda Salcido, our Chair of the Board, came to the hospital immediately on hearing about Dr. Bourne and helped organize and participate in our sessions with staff. She kept an eye on our administrative team to make sure we were coping and taking care of ourselves. Speaking of our Administrative Team, I could never have gotten through the last month without them.
Mammoth Hospital was well supported by our Community and I thank everyone who came to our assistance. Northern Inyo Hospital provided surgical care to our community for the 10 days it took us to get surgical coverage organized. Fred Weatherly, a Chaplin and grief counselor has been by our side and helped us through the past few weeks as events unfolded. Sheriff Rick Scholl and Police Chief Dan Watson both called the morning after Dr. Bourne died to tell me about a crisis team they had both worked with in the past. After a few phone calls, Julie and Sarah from Counseling Team International were on their way from Southern California and onsite that evening. Julie, Sarah, and Fred provided us with an invaluable service and helped staff cope with their grief and understand their feelings. From Mammoth Mountain Rusty Gregory CEO and Jack Copeland, VP were quick to offer their support and any resources we might need. School Superintendent Rich Boccia and I were in constant communication. And, my Rotary Club has supported me and other staff throughout this ordeal. I can’t forget our families, without their support it would have been difficult to go to work every day. There are others I’m sure I haven’t mentioned, but I would like to thank our community for supporting us in our time of need.
Our physicians have stepped up to provide support and care to our patients. Dr.’s Fandrich, Sedwitz, Johnson, and Ifune are covering the lion’s share of General Surgery coverage. Dr. Bortolazzo from Urology has assisted in following up with active patients that Dr. Bourne was caring for. Dr. Harrell from Medical Imaging has taken on some of the vascular procedures for our patients. Dr.’s Anderson and Smith, anesthesiologists, are providing coverage so that Jonathan Bourne, M.D. can be with his family. And Dr. Deck, one of our surgeons who lives down south and is recovering from an injury himself, has offered to do anything and everything he can physically do. I know I’m not recognizing everyone, but I thank all of our physicians for all they are doing, it is an honor to work with them.
We are moving forward and will continue to provide high quality care to our communities and visitors with compassion and respect. The process has begun to find permanent surgeons to replace and continue the great program established by Dr. Bourne, a physician who cannot be replaced. I think the blur of information in January is starting to fade and many of us are beginning to focus on the positives that Dr. Bourne brought to us in his five year career at Mammoth Hospital. I can think of patients whose lives he saved and whose lives he improved, such as the young lady who crashed into a tree while skiing and the snowboarder who sliced his arm nearly in half. He was there for them and many others. Andrew Bourne M.D. you will be missed. May you rest in peace my friend.
Gary Boyd is the CEO of Mammoth Hospital