The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Incident throws light on how to work with patients with severe depression


The former scourge of Klickitat Valley Health (KVH) has long renounced his one-man guerilla war against the hospital—but his ire returned after a recent visit there. In its wake came an attempted suicide and a court-ordered placement in a mental health facility.

Goldendale resident Delbert Brown for years was a name that struck unease in the inner sanctums of KVH, over four different CEO administrations. Brown railed against what he saw as unacceptable failings and flaws of the hospital. Then, suddenly, about two years ago, Brown called it quits. He saw significant improvements in the hospital’s functioning with CEO John White and then with his successor, current CEO Leslie Hiebert. The war was over.

Until Sep. 23 of this year.

On that day, Brown went to the KVH emergency room, complaining of severe abdominal pain and shortness of breath. He’d also experienced rapid weight loss in recent weeks.

Because of legalities involved in the incident, the specific attending medical staff who treated Brown that day cannot be named in this article. Bottom line is that Brown swears—literally so in his complaint documents sent to the hospital and the state Department of Health—he was verbally roughed up and inexcusably mistreated.

“They wanted me to go in a vehicle to another facility,” Brown recalls. “I said, ‘I can’t do it. I’m in too much pain; it hurts to just move.”

Thereupon, Brown says, the main medical team member tore into Brown, screaming at him and demeaning him. Brown then asked for Hiebert to come to the room to intervene in the situation. He says the staff initially refused to call her. Finally they did ask her to come, and she did.

Brown doesn’t completely characterize his conversation with Hiebert, but he makes it clear it was unsatisfactory. Soon after, he filed complaints against the medical team. The state Medical Quality Assurance Commission has opened investigative cases on the doctor and nurse.

Contacted about the incident, Hiebert said she was not free to discuss its details, but she strongly defended the main medical staff member.

Brown said he’d come to repentance over some of his actions in the past and that he didn’t want another round of full-scale confrontation with KVH.

“I just want to know someone cares about my health,” he said. “I just want to be treated properly.”

On the night of Nov. 7 Brown told his wife he wanted to see his relatives who are dead. Then he took large quantities of three powerful drugs. His wife called for help, which came in the form of a court order placing him under 72-hour observation at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. (Brown gave permission for this information to be used in this story.)

He returned home after the 72 hours were over. Days later he was in OHSU in Portland for more treatment.

Brown says stress over his mistreatment on Sep. 23 at KVH pushed me over the edge. “I was tired of living, tired of life,” he states. The incident and its aftermath are drawing attention to how to handle patients with severe depression or other similar conditions even if their perception of causal events might be inaccurate.


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