Porter Ranch gas leak health study hits roadblock after doctor is forced out
by Brenda Gazzar, September 7, 2017, Los Angeles Daily News
A physician who has been tracking patients potentially affected by the massive Porter Ranch gas leak has been let go from an urgent care clinic he led for eight years, which could disrupt his clinical health study.
Dr. Jeffrey B. Nordella, formerly medical director of the Porter Ranch Quality Care, said his termination by the Van Nuys-based Southern California Orthopedic Institute that owns the clinic was effective Sept. 1.
“It kind of cut us off at the knees a bit; I have no place to see my patients,” the family practice/ER doctor said in an interview this week. “I’m scrambling to find a place; I might be in a trailer, in a parking lot, some place if I have to do that.”
Nordella, in a letter recently published in the Porter Ranch Valley Voice, said he was given “numerous reasons” for his termination, including that SCOI is in negotiations for their acquisition by a health group.
Michael Sawyer, chief executive officer of SCOI, said they gave Nordella a five-week notice that they “no longer needed him” for their urgent care and orthopedic service center. Sawyer called Nordella “essentially an independent contractor” rather than an employee. He said their business relationship ended “for various reasons” but that it had “nothing to do” with the Porter Ranch gas leak study. [Pfffft! Do you believe that?]
“We’re not trying to quash his study; we think it’s a great idea and encourage him to continue to do it,” Sawyer said.
The gas leak that was detected on Oct. 23, 2015 at Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility spewed more than 100,000 metric tons of potent methane over nearly four months. It prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency, sickened thousands and forced more than 8,300 households in the northern San Fernando Valley to temporarily relocate.
As soon as Nordella finds another office, SCOI will refer patients for the clinical study to him along with other patients he’s been following in his medical practice, Sawyer said. He said the urgent care center is also giving out the doctor’s email address and phone number to patients who are trying to reach him.
“We certainly have not abandoned any patient,” Sawyer said. “We want to make sure any patient that sees us, whether for urgent care or orthopedics, receives the level of care that they need.”
Nordella said he was told by phone several weeks ago that he may have to leave by Sept. 1. He said he only received written confirmation of that date in an email in late August.
“It will be my claim that I was not given sufficient notice to relocate; there was no place I could go,” he said.
He’s concerned that the move could disrupt the continuity of care of all patients that he sees, including the elderly. He said he’s now looking into subleasing space in the same building where the urgent care center is located.
Nordella said he still plans on releasing the results of his study in mid-October, even if it means meeting patients in a trailer or in their homes from now on.
The clinical health study involves a history and baseline physical exam and then tracking patients’ symptoms over time. About 130 patients are participating, he said. In addition, about 100 patients each are involved in urine screening and hair screening, with some crossover of patients between the study and screenings, Nordella explained.
“We’re in uncharted waters with regards to the amount of chemicals that have been dumped into the community that we know of,” Nordella said. “The biggest issue is what chemicals we don’t know of — and it’s all been (emitted) at once.”
Nordella said he is not aware of any other studies that have followed this sort of exposure over a long period of time. [The real reason he got terminated?]
Meanwhile, Save Porter Ranch and Food & Water Watch are planning a protest in support of Nordella outside of Porter Ranch Quality Care at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“We’re pretty sure this is an attempt of a cover-up and a whitewash of the health crisis,” said Matt Pakucko, president of Save Porter Ranch. “He was about to come with his results (of the study) and then they fire him.” [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
2016 05 25: New Study: Alberta’s tar sands leading source of air pollution in North America, Tens of thousands of people living within reach breathing elevated levels of fine particles linked in previous studies to lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes
2016 01 29: SoCalGas Co spewing oily gas (and mystery frac chemicals?) poisoning 1.8 Million people across LA’s San Fernando’s valley. Is frac’ing or fluid injection to enhance oil recovery partially to blame for Porter Ranch disaster?
2015 01 21: Regulatory Failure, Corporate Failure, Inspection Failure, Integrity Failure, Casing Failure, Safety Failure, Greed Trumps All: Regulator & SoCalGas Co. knew casing was corroding, failing with major leakage problems at Porter Ranch gas storage facility more than a year before catastrophic leak
2015 12 09: L.A. city attorney sues SoCal Gas over gas leak making Porter Ranch homes “unlivable.” Why isn’t Alberta’s Attorney General suing Encana & AER for illegally frac’ing a community’s drinking water supply, then engaging in Charter violations, fraud to cover it up?
In Alberta too, obviously:
2014 02 04: Broken trust: Alberta family without answers about oil sands’ health impact, When an Alberta mom met with an ear-throat-and-nose specialist in Grande Prairie about oil-sands emissions pollution, his advice stunned her
Oil fumes so painful, families forced to move
When she finally met with an ear-throat-and-nose specialist in Grande Prairie who diagnosed her with having airborne pollution, his advice stunned her. “He just told me to move,” Labrecque said under oath at the hearing that ended Friday. “He said… you are just a small, little bolt in this huge robot, and you don’t matter. Move.”
The industry-funded oversight agency heard two weeks of testimony from Peace River residents with health concerns about odours and emissions from the oil sands industry. Labrecque claims the specialist who made the provocative comments was Dr. Mel Delacruz. The Vancouver Observer called Dr. Delacruz at his medical office Friday, but he said he was instructed by his lawyer not to speak about the matter, and hung up the phone.