You may recall the story we posted at the beginning of the year about the mysterious fates of Phyllis Jennings's father and Kristi Sallie's mother at Spectrum Health facilities. Despite plain evidence to the contrary, such as unusual wounds and bruises on the body of the father Edwin Jennings, Spectrum's in-house pathologists declared that in neither case was there anything suspect in their deaths. (We then also learned of a third unusual death fitting the same profile that was whitewashed by Spectrum officials.) The Kent County Medical Examiner Stephen Cohle poohed-poohed the complaints of the Jennings and Sallie families and closed the matter with a report, that a professional if not a layman would immediately recognize as scandalously vague and incomplete.
Come to find out, Cohle was highly unlikely to ever critically examine the work of Spectrum's pathologists, because they are contractors provided to Spectrum Health by Laboratory Pathologists P.C., a medical services firm he owns! In other words, despite the duties of his public office Cohle was not about to bite the hand that feeds him. Meanwhile, taxpayers are paying good money to have the fox watch the henhouse, and the Kent County Board of Commissioners has been despicable in its refusal to take effective action to rid the public of this gross conflict of interest. And justice continues to be denied the Jennings and Sallie families.
On top of all this, the Jennings family was shocked to discover that Spectrum Health removed Edwin's brain and arranged to have it delivered to the Transplantation Society. However, Edwin was not an organ donor. Moreover, neither Cohle's pathologists working for Spectrum nor Cohle as the medical examiner mentioned in their official reports that Edwin's brain had been removed from his body. The Jennings only learned of this horror when they had Edwin's body exhumed four months after his burial for an independent, professional autopsy. Afterwards, Spectrum Health without explanation returned Edwin's brain in a vat of formaldehyde.
As it happens there is a booming market in the U.S. for human body parts and tissues. Unscrupulous funeral homes, hospitals, and medical labs remove pricey parts of the deceased, who are then soon buried, which pretty much eliminates the evidence of the crime. Once again, your medical examiner Stephen Cohle has no interest in pursuing this matter. In light of the direct conflict of interest with his company, Laboratory Pathologists, which was involved in the disappearance of Edwin's brain -- his inaction is unacceptable.
Although the local media has not done a good job of covering this important story, Detroit's ABC affiliate WXYZ TV7 did. After recently airing the story of Edwin's stolen brain on the evening newscast, reporter Ray Sayah posted the story on WXYZ's website on May 7, 2006. According to Sayah, Spectrum Health then leaned on WXYZ to delete the story and the station capitulated. You now can no longer find the story about Edwin Jennings on its website. WXYZ is an aggressive news organization, so it makes one wonder what kind of threat Spectrum could have made that intimidated the station. Whatever it was, it worked.
So, remember, folks. Spectrum Health protects itself, not the health of you and your loved ones. For Stephen Cohle, the Kent County medical examiner, taking care of his private business affairs trumps his public duty to you. Your elected officials, in particular the Kent County Board of Commissioners, simply don't give a damn about that conflict of interest. And the media in Michigan, if not already in the bag for Spectrum (like Grand Rapids Press publisher Danny Gaydou) have feet of clay when comes to the big hospital on the hill. Therefore, never forget you're on your own.