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Statement from Gail Shephard - 18 year Employee of Kaiser Permanente Downey made May 10, 2008 at the Santa Monica Woman's Club
The photograph to your left is of Gail Shepard prior to becoming exposed to contaminants on the former NASA Industrial Facility Downey property - current home of Kaiser Permanente Downey.
The following is her statement which was made during the Ralph Nader Press Conference (after Mr. Nader and Mr. Gonzalez spoke) of May 10, 2008 at the Santa Monica Woman's Club in Santa Monica, California.
Statement by Gail Shephard - 18 year employee of Kaiser Permanente
"We are here today, as victims of an outrageous and willful neglect. After many months of calling, and writing to Local, State and Federal Gov. Agencies and Politicians, our voices have been consistently ignored, with regards to the ongoing clean-up of toxic substances at the former NASA/
Boeing Superfund Site, in the City of Downey. While the hazardous wastes of TCE, PCE, Asbestos, Lead, Chromium, Arsenic, PCB's and many other’s were being discovered, assessed and remediated, demolition and construction activities were occurring simultaneously. According to a report, NASA had underestimated contamination levels and the cost of remediation. Concerned with their budget, they could not assure the land was safe at the time it was removed from a Superfund status, and almost overnight, 70 years of Aerospace History, along with all the cancer causing toxins, became the First Privatized transaction in the Nation. Disclosures warning of the possibilities to exposures of known cancer causing agents and toxic wastes, while on the property, had not been provided to employees that were not affiliated with the remediation and/or, construction crews. Many, who haveworked on this property, have become sick and have been denied medical care.
My medical care has been provided by my Employer, Kaiser Permanente, for the past 18 years. The Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, has built their New Regional Medical Center on this contaminated land. Soon after being relocated to the Garden Medical Facility from the Bellflower Hospital, I developed painful elbows, and went seeking medical advice. It was suggested I file a work compensation claim, which I promptly did, as it was thought I may need elbow surgery. I also began having many other severe symptoms, such as sudden onset of dangerously High Blood Pressure, Dizzy Spells, Extreme Head Pain, Memory Loss, Breathing Spasms, Balance Disturbances, and I was told I had Stress. As my Co-Workers began experiencing similar symptoms they too, were also told they had Stress! As an Orthopedic Technician, my job duties involved traveling between Kaiser Permanente’s 2 Facilities, the Downey Garden Medical Offices and the Bellflower Hospital location. Not only were my civil rights violated, by unknowingly being exposed to the toxic conditions at the Downey Facility, I was also, at the same time, deliberately and repeatedly exposed to unsafe working conditions at the Hospital Facility.
NOTE: The Photographs to your right is of Gail Shepard after working 17months at the Kaiser Permanente Downey medical location.
Contaminated toilet water, had many times overflowed, spilling contents onto the floor and soaking into the wall of the Orthopedic Technician Workroom, and huge amount of mould was
discovered behind a supply cabinet. Since our Workroom was also used as a Patient Exam Room, upon learning of the Mould situation, our Lead Ortho-Tech
relayed the orders given by the Dept. Administrator, due to the unhealthful conditions, we were to discontinue using the room for Patient Care, but we, were to still use this room. Finally, after 3 weeks, the 3ft x 2ft wall of solid mould, was replaced. Many of my Co-Workers which worked in and around that area have died. My elbow pain increased, my muscles became very weak, requiring the aid of a cane to walk. My Occupational Medicine Dr. laughed at me, when I told him of my weakness and he cruely told me to go exercise! I replied, "If I could exercise, I’d be working!" Soon after, my Work Compensation Status, was denied and I was released to return to work without restrictions. I was also told my feet and legs looked NORMAL. I was shocked!
How could my obvious physical and health conditions be denied? I had no choice but to seek outside medical evaluation and was deemed by the State of California to be 100% disabled. I am now in a wheelchair after 17 months of working on this property. My healthcare has literally been dumped, upon the taxpayers, and KAISER is free from Liability? This outright Criminal Action comes under the Title of Fraud, Waste and Abuse, which has been a common practice by Kaiser Permanente. I would like to urge any of my sick Co-Workers at Kaiser Permanente, to contact Ms. Vickie Travis. Her contact information can be found at: http://downey.kaiserpapers.info