A Valley farm laborer sets a record for a lengthy hospitalization at Community Regional Medical Center, the city of Fresno agrees to pay a $1.3 million settlement in an officer- involved shooting death, and a homeless woman who was a longtime advWhaocate for her fellow homeless people dies on a downtown sidewalk.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.
What happened: After 374 days at Community Regional Medical Center -- the longest uninterrupted stay by a patient at the Fresno acute-care hospital -- Marco Antonio Fuentes finally was well enough to be discharged Wednesday. Fuentes came to the hospital with a severe belly ache. Necrotizing pancreatitis, an infection of the pancreas, had eaten away tissues, including his intestines. He wound up needing 12 surgeries.
What it means: Fuentes, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, has no health insurance. Much of the cost of his care will be taken on by the hospital as charity care. After a couple of weeks convalescing at an uncle's home in Red Bluff, Fuentes will go to Mexico to live with his parents and work at their small tortilla-making business.
What readers said: "Unless these costs are actually borne by the medical facility (which they aren't) there is no such thing as "charity care". The cost of this poor man's care is passed-on to the tax-payer and those still lucky enough to be able to afford medical-care insurance. The use of such terminology as "charity care" is clearly deceptive. The sad reality is, unlike that which was so eagerly afforded this man, there are now thousands (if not tens-of-thousands) of American citizens who languish in debilitating agony for lack of needed medical care."
-- LUTHER G. BROSSA
"send the bill to the employers who gave him work that kept him in the country illegally"
"Yep. I'm sure they are all just lining up to spend a year being fed through IV and enduring multiple surgeries. Yeah, our immigration policies are creating this problem, but don't go demonizing a guy who just came here to work, and did so for more than a decade, before getting sick."
What happened: Fresno city officials agreed Thursday to pay $1.3 million to the family of an unarmed man killed by police in October 2009 as well as make key changes to department policies involving officer-involved shootings. The agreement ends a legal battle with the family of Steven Anthony Vargas, who was killed by Sgt. Mike Palomino. A federal jury last month found that Palomino used excessive and unreasonable force in the incident.
What it means: The settlement -- approved Thursday in closed session by the Fresno City Council -- will come from the city's self-insurance pool. Under the policy changes, Fresno police will make a "good-faith effort" to complete all officer-involved shooting investigations within one year. If the investigation is not finished within six months, a high-ranking Fresno officer will personally give a status update to the family of the person shot by police. Police Chief Jerry Dyer said he would do a better job of giving feedback to officers involved in a shooting, and vowed to continue training efforts so officers react appropriately. Dyer also said the city is committed to having a police auditor.
What readers said:
"Dyer gave lip-service --I assume-- to learning from mistakes, but nobody here is talking about how many residents Fresno is failing. The truth is, it's all of your faults that kids grow up getting pushed toward crime, and it's all your faults that FPD and the sheriff are so untrained and often mean-spirited. There are a lot of examples in this world of communities where people are educated, employed and professionally policed: Fresno could change for the better, but it would take a lot more compassion and commitment than is being voiced in this forum. Few people have a worse outlook than children of parents who get shot."
"ive done a number of ridealongs with a variety of agencies. everytime i have heard "better to judged by twelve than carried by six". the idea of increased training in realizing when a real danger exists is as important as training to be deadly accurate with a weapon. i agree with the chief...more training is needed."
"Finish all investigations within a year. Yeah right. LIke it took a year to investigate something of this nature. PUre stonewallig by the police department. You don't need a year to investigate 99.99 percent of the crimes a police department has jurisdiction over."
-- randy rhynes
"I am amused by how many of you ask each other what you would do if you were in Mr. Palomino's place. In your zeal to defend a cop only because he is a cop, you fail to acknowledge the fact that he is supposed to be a "professional", and we should expect him to make better decisions than the average citizen in stressful situations. Part of being a professional police officer means that you're able to quickly assess a situation and respond with only the amount of force required to contain it, it does not mean close your eyes and empty your clip because that's what the average citizen would do."
What happened: Sharen "Big Sue" Bobbitt, a strong-willed advocate for the homeless who spoke up for others but declined help for herself, died Dec. 28 in her sleep on her usual spot on the sidewalk -- which she staked out nearly a year ago -- just across the street from Naomi's House, an overnight shelter for homeless women on F Street in downtown Fresno.
Ms. Bobbitt, 59, who was a driving force in the shelter's creation, died of apparent natural causes, although a deputy coroner said drug paraphernalia was found on her body. Results of toxicology tests will be completed in about two weeks. The official cause of death will be determined then, the deputy coroner said.
She recently was having difficulty breathing, but resisted efforts by others to get her into the Poverello clinic or a hospital.
What it means: Her death shocked and saddened many who knew her and brought new attention to the plight of downtown Fresno's homeless.
What readers said:
"I didn't know Sharen Bobbitt, but it is apparent ... that she was important to quite a few people. To the extent that there seems to be any controversy, it seems to me that it revolves around the issue of resolving how people incapable of taking care of themselves due to mental health issues live in a non-destructive way. I can't help but think that if people in these circumstances cannot be involuntarily placed in the least restrictive, safe environment that these events will continue. Perhaps in Ms Bobbitt's situation this wasn't the case, but I don't think making the homeless more comfortable in the street is the solution, despite the concern for their civil rights."
"Rest in Peace, Big Sue. On the TV news last night was the story that many homeless, now without their make-shift shelters that were intentionally destroyed by the City's "clean-up", have moved into even more dangerous places and conditions. Is anyone surprised? Where were they expected to go? How many more exposure-related deaths will occur as a direct result of City policy and actions that take away what little shelter many homeless folks have? I do not "blame the mayor" for this death, but her policies sure seem to be a contributing factor."