Beth Keegstra, an emergency room physician at El Camino Hospital in Los Gatos, California, was suspended by hospital officials after a video where she was seen berating a patient complaining of an anxiety attack went viral on Facebook.
According to the Mercury News, the incident took place on Monday, when 20-year-old Samuel Bardwell, who had just recently enrolled at West Valley College in Saratoga, was hospitalized due to suffering an anxiety attack after basketball practice. The young man’s father, Donald Bardwell, posted the video on Facebook on Tuesday, where it appears that Keegstra was mocking both father and son, and referring to Samuel as the “least sick of all the people who are here who are dying.”
“There, so you picked your head up. Now don’t try to tell me you can’t move. C’mon, sit up,” Keegstra continued, as quoted by the Mercury News.
After Samuel Bardwell said later in the video that he had difficulty inhaling, Beth Keegstra reportedly reacted with the following sarcastic comment.
“He can’t inhale, wow! He must be dead! Are you dead, sir?”
The Mercury News also interviewed West Valley basketball coach Scott Eitelgeorge, who said that Samuel, who stands 6-foot-9, “wasn’t looking too good” and appeared to have a particularly severe anxiety attack, having stepped out after just five minutes or so of basketball practice. Eitelgeorge called 911 after the young man collapsed outside the weight room, having attempted to collect himself by lifting weights, then stepped out a few minutes later.
In an interview with SFGate, Donald Bardwell explained that his son has an existing history of anxiety attacks, for which he takes Klonopin, a sedative used by people who suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, and seizures. In the run-up to this week’s incident, Samuel Bardwell had not picked up his most recent supply of the drug due to his busy schedule as a working student, and as his father explained, neither man was sure what would happen if Samuel did not take his medication as prescribed.
Talking about what happened when father and son encountered Beth Keegstra, the elder Bardwell alleged that the ER doctor didn’t bother to introduce herself when she entered, nor did she ask Samuel for his name. He also claims that Keegstra tried to make them leave the hospital after she accused the men of coming to the hospital for drugs.
“She said, ‘I know why you people are here, you people who come here for drugs,’ and I said ‘What do you mean you people? She was rambling on so angrily, [and] that’s why I pulled out my phone.”
Since Donald Bardwell uploaded the video to Facebook, the clip has been shared over 106,000 times and been viewed by more than 4.2 million people. On Wednesday, Keegstra, who had worked at El Camino since the start of the decade, was removed from the hospital’s work schedule pending investigation of her case.
As noted by the Mercury News, Beth Keegstra, like the rest of El Camino’s emergency room doctors, did not work directly for the hospital, but was employed by Emeryville staffing agency Vituity. In an email to the publication, Vituity spokeswoman Allison Kundu said that Keegstra was further disciplined by being removed from the schedule at the other hospitals where she works.