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Five were hospitalized. One nurse was kept in the hospital for ten days with tremors and apnea. The most seriously ill, a doctor in residence named Julie Gorchynski, stayed in intensive care for two weeks, contracting apnea, hepatitis, pancreatitis, and necrosis of the bone marrow which crippled her legs for months and required at least three surgeries.
it couldn't be found with any certainty. Many investigations led to dead ends. And in September 1994, nearly seven months after the toxic lady felled the medical staff, the health department released its official report. Ramirez died from cervical cancer, and nothing else. The emergency room victims were found to be free of any explicable medical causes, and were determined to have suffered from a mass sociogenic illness, triggered by a frightening odor of unknown origin.
...Six days earlier, as Ramirez was being treated at Riverside General Hospital for nausea and difficulty breathing, six emergency-room workers attending to her smelled ammonia-like fumes and became ill. A nurse who had been drawing Ramirez's blood passed out.
An ER doctor was wheeled out of the room unconscious and with severe breathing problems. A respiratory therapist also passed out; another nurse threw up. Other workers near Ramirez complained of headache and nausea. An evacuation of the ER was ordered. Ramirez, a young mother with advanced cervical cancer, died in the emergency room that night—February 19, 1994.
Inspectors from California's worker-safety agency deemed her corpse a public health hazard; it was wrapped in two layers of heavy plastic and stored in an airtight aluminum casket...