Hospital official at Tyler nurse trial describes watching video when patient deteriorated
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The fourth day of the trial of a former East Texas nurse accused of killing patients during his time working at a Tyler heart hospital got underway Friday.
The jury heard from the cardiovascular ICU clinical director who described the moment she first saw security camera video showing William Davis enter and exit a patient’s room, moments before they began to crash.
“Do you see William Davis here in the courtroom?” asked prosecutor Lance Long.
“Yes sir, I do,” responded cardiovascular ICU clinical director at CHRISTUS Teresa Meeks.
Cardiovascular ICU clinical director Teresa Meeks took the stand Friday, giving jurors her account of what happened to Chris Greenaway and Joseph Kalina. Meeks says both men were at the Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital in Tyler recovering well from heart surgery, Greenaway in August 2017 and Kalina in January 2018.
Meeks says both of their surgeries went as planned, but both suddenly took a turn for the worst in the early morning hours. Their blood pressure and heart rate dropped, and large amounts of air were later found in their brains.
“We were in shock. How could this possibly have occurred? We immediately convened and we were looking at the chart. I poured through the chart, took detailed notes,” Meeks said.
“What were you looking for in the chart?” Long asked.
“A trend. Anything that would explain this unbelievable deterioration,” Meeks said.
Meeks says what puzzled the staff even more was that both Greenaway and Kalina were doing well leading up to their sudden downturn.
“They were awake. They had woken up after surgery. They were interacting with us. They had extubated, or had their breathing tube pulled out, with no problems. Sitting up. Doing well. Just no reason to expect that they would have a bad event or that they would die, certainly not die,” she said.
Not knowing what caused the men to crash left the nurses feeling worse.
“The staff were devastated. They were very somber and in shock,” Meeks said.
Later, Meeks says she watched the security camera video from the morning Joseph Kalina took a turn for the worst. That video shows William Davis enter Kalina’s room, Meeks says with what appears to be a syringe in his hand. Davis leaves the room about one minute later.
“Everything kinda fell into my head all at the same time and so as I’m watching the video, that’s why my response was please God, no. Please don’t go in there. Don’t go in that room because I was aware from my chart review that that was the time Mr. Kalina deteriorated,” Meeks said.
Davis has pleaded not guilty to the charges he’s facing.
1:58 p.m. - The court returned from lunch break and Meeks’ continued testimony.
Meeks said Chris Greenaway was in room 302. Davis was treating patients in 300 and 301. Davis was not Greenaway’s nurse. Ben Rasberry was Greenaway’s nurse.
A CT scan revealed large amounts of air in Greenaway’s brain. Meeks says she poured through Greenaway’s charts, looking for what could have caused Greenaway’s sudden decline. She said she never thought one of her nurses could have been responsible.
Root cause analysis did not come to a conclusion on what caused air to get into his brain.
In the case of Joseph Kalina on January 25, 2018, Lacy Simpson was training with Ben Rasberry. Meeks says Simpson was an experienced nurse, but new to Christus’ CVICU.
Meeks said “The staff were devastated,” about the decline in Kalina’s health. Ben Rasberry and Lacy Simpson were the nurses assigned to Kalina.
The security camera system had been upgraded Summer 2017.
12:10 p.m. - Teresa Meeks, the clinical director for CVICU Christus Mother Frances, said that she has been with Mother Frances since 2016. She told the jury that “events” started happening in 2017 and 2018 that could not be explained. She added that multiple patients took a turn for the worst.
Meeks said these types of events are extremely uncommon. She also said that these “unexplained events” only happened during the night shift. (Davis always worked the night shift.)
After Meeks’ testimony, the trial took a break for lunch. Testimony will resume at 1:15 p.m.
11:29 a.m. - Joshua Harris, sales rep for Baxter Health said he was called out to Tyler in early 2018 to download information from a pump. He also discussed how they are able to get information from the pumps.
Colleen Wheaty also spoke about how pumps work. She said she was looking at pump records from the early morning hours of Jan. 25, 2018.
William Davis, 37, of Hallsville, is accused of injecting air into the arterial lines of patients at a Tyler heart hospital, killing at least two people and injuring several others. Davis was arrested in April 2018. At the time, he was a registered nurse at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler.
Davis pleaded not guilty as the trial got underway. The prosecutor, Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman began opening arguments.
“A hospital is the perfect place for a serial killer to hide,” Putman said during his arguments.
Putman laid out evidence surrounding the death of one of the people who died. Christopher Greenaway, 47, had undergone a successful surgery, but went from being healthy to crashing levels. Greenaway developed clots in the brain, blocking his blood flow and exhibited stroke-like symptoms. He went from being fine to being unconscious.
Greenaway would receive a CT scan and his arterial space was found to have “a lot” of air in it. Doctors were trying to figure out what happened, but didn’t want to suspect someone did it on purpose. Greenaway died in August of 2017.
Putman said another suspected victim, 58-year-old Joseph Kalina, had a similar story. Kalina was doing fine but then took a turn for the worst. He would also eventually die of injuries sustained at the hospital.
Putman said at the time, newly installed security cameras showed William Davis enter Kalina’s room. Davis watched from down the hall as nurses sprinted down the hall to help Kalina.
Lead defense attorney Phillip Hayes testified.
“The thing about strokes is they’re not uncommon in a hospital setting,” Hayes said acknowledging the deaths of the individuals.
Hayes also said the trial will show that Davis did not kill the patients.
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