Liberville, Calif. - Citing a "statistically significant" spate of negative outcomes for patients treated at an organic hospital and clinic in Liberville, public health authorities have ordered the facility closed and Hicks County prosecutors have convened a grand jury to investigate possible criminal charges against hospital staff.
Hicks County Coroner Howard Stensen requested that the California Board of Hospital Certification compile statistics on treatment outcomes when he began receiving bodies from the hospital with certificates citing unusual causes of death.
"The causes of death asserted for these patients included dropsy, vapors, staggers, grippe, lumbago and ague", said Stensen. "These diseases and diagnoses are no longer recognized by modern medicine".
In addition, he said, the bodies showed no signs of having received medical care pre-mortem. He found no indication that the patients had received any intravenous fluids, while many had pustulent sores crusted with herbaceous matter.
"What disturbed me the most is that the bodies in the worst condition appeared actually to have been exsanguinated, which is consistent with the Medieval practice of phlebotomy, or blood-letting, which was thought to release disease-causing humors", he said.
Stacy Pedersen, chair of the Certification Board, said that a survey of patient outcomes was disturbing, but still did not prepare her for what she saw upon visiting the facility.
"The pattern of morbidity and mortality which emerged from the statistics were consistent with what one would find in the remote areas of a third-world country", she said. "In essence, the statistics indicated outcomes actually worse than no health care at all."
Upon visiting the facility, Peterson found conditions "nauseating and abysmal".
"Patient bandages were actually recycled clothing", Peterson said. "Cafeteria workers prepared food in the kitchen directly from returning from the hospital's organic garden", she added, describing the garden as "scattered with animal dung", "profuse with noxious weeds" and "producing withered parodies of vegetable matter".
She also found evidence that the hospital had been hit with an outbreak of Clostridium after staff and patients consumed non-pasteurized milk from the cafeteria. "It appears that the preventable deaths from this outbreak were attributed to 'the staggers'", she said.
What Pederson found most appalling were practices relating to birth control and obstetrics. "I will not describe for you the appalling nostrums prescribed for women's birth control", she said. "Suffice it to say that there was a wave of pregnancies among clinic patients shortly after the clinic opened, and a wave of obstetric admissions nine months thereafter".
That was when the horror began, she says. "This level of mortality among mothers and infants during childbirth has not been seen since Medieval times."
"The hospital was founded when it was recognized that organic farmers and consumers weren't actually organic", said Arnold Schlumberger, a hospital spokesman and organic farmer. "That is to say, they themselves were not organic. They pumped their women full of artificial anti-pregnancy hormones, put antibiotic salves on even minor cuts and scrapes, and consumed any number of chemicals from factories and experimental laboratories to treat everything, from headaches, to impotence, to cancer."
"Eating organic food and wearing organic clothing mean nothing if you yourself are not organic", he added, pointing out that the health care provided was "just as good as health care that organic dairies provide for their certified organic cows."
He said treatment also included "holistic spiritual healing".
According to a brochure, "Treatment at other hospitals and clinics always alienates the patient from the illness", and "We encourage the patients to see their illness as part of themselves, and to see disease as a natural part of life, as a challenge to become stronger."
Schlumberger also pointed out that patients and their children signed the same waivers upon receiving treatment as patients in other hospitals. "They agree that the practice of medicine is an art, not a science, and that all treatments and procedures entail risk", he said.
"It is not a crime to provide all-natural health care to people who ask for it", he concluded.
The facility has been condemned by public health officials as a Level II Biohazard and entry is only allowed for crime scene investigators.