Subject: PLEASE RECONSIDER DECISION TO END CARE FOR RICHELLE STARNESDate: October 09, 2007
Dear (Vice Admiral Robinson or Dr. Donald Winter),
I wanted to bring your attention to an issue (I saw on WESH Channel 2 in Orlando, Florida) OR (heard from a friend) about a young woman who was infected with HIV due to a military medical mistake.
I found the story of Richelle (Baker) Starnes and her family to be both shocking and incredibly moving. In 1990, when Richelle Starnes was diagnosed with HIV, she was promised lifelong medical care by the Navy because she and her mother were infected due to a military medical mistake. This mistake prompted a blood transfusion that was tainted with HIV. Kathy Baker, Richelle’s mother, had presented to her Navy Ob/Gyn complaining of severe cramping, a lump in her side, and spotting of blood. Her concerns were dismissed by that doctor and she was sent home. Over the next few days, Everett Baker (Kathy’s husband and Richelle’s father), continued to call the navy clinic where time and again his concerns were dismissed. He realized that Kathy’s life was in immediate danger and he dialed 911. She was rushed to the nearest hospital by ambulance after her misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy ruptured, where she received many pints of blood. Had the military doctor made the proper diagnosis the blood transfusion, tainted with HIV, NEVER would have been needed.
Mrs. Starnes was conceived two weeks after her mother received the HIV infected blood transfusion and subsequently born HIV positive in July 1980. Mrs. Starnes, has so far beat the odds and is living a normal life without AIDS. She believes it is in large part due to the quality health care she's received from the Navy, the very care the Navy now wants to take from her.
In March 2005, after treating her HIV disease for 15 years, the Navy informed Mrs. Starnes that she would no longer receive care provided by the U.S. Navy. For more than 2 years, she has fought to continue the medical care and treatment that was promised to her when she was diagnosed. I implore you to reconsider your decision to end the HIV treatment for Mrs. Starnes. I urge you to restore the medical care and prescription drug treatment provided, without charge, by the Navy. It is the very least that should be done considering how this woman became infected and the promise that was made to this family.
I would appreciate your looking into this situation and doing whatever you can do to rectify this mistake.