PRESS RELEASE:

 

ROBERT WENDLAND's FAMILY DEMANDS ANSWERS ABOUT
HIS WELL-BEING


** For immediate release**

July 14, 2001
EMERGENCY  PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY

At 3:00 p.m. TODAY, Pacific Time, Florence Wendland, the mother of Robert Wendland, and Rebekah Vinson, Robert's sister, as well as their counsel, will hold an EMERGENCY PRESS CONFERENCE outside Lodi Memorial Hospital -West (corner of Lower Sacramento Road and Vine Street in Lodi).

Robert Wendland has been the subject of a legal battle since July 1995 when his wife, Rose, petitioned the San Joaquin County Superior Court to be appointed his conservator and for permission to pull his feeding tube and bring about his death by dehydration and starvation.  Robert is not in a persistent vegetative state or coma.  He is conscious, but disabled following a September 1993 motor vehicle accident.

The case was argued before the California Supreme Court on May 30, 2001, but that court has not yet rendered its decision.

Since June 1, 2001, Florence, who has consistently visited her son 3-4 times per week since his injury, has been prohibited from taking Robert outside his hospital room in wheelchair, accompanying him to the multi-purpose room, or engaging in other activities with him.  Rose ordered that Florence only be allowed to visit with Robert within the confines of his hospital room.

On Wednesday, July 11, 2001, Florence arrived at Lodi Memorial Hospital -- West to visit her son only to discover that he appeared to be gravely ill.  She was advised by hospital personnel that no information concerning Robert's condition would be provided to her and, in fact, if she asked the doctors for information, Rose, in reliance upon her authority as Robert's conservator, would direct the hospital to prevent Florence from visiting with her son at all.

Rebekah has been barred by Rose from visiting with her brother or even entering the hospital lobby.

On Thursday, July 12, 2001, Florence and Rebekah (also a party to the legal proceeding which has been pending since 1995), brought an emergency Petition for Instructions before San Joaquin Superior Court Judge Bob W. McNatt, asking the judge to order Robert's wife and conservator, Rose, to give Florence information concerning her son's health and safety.  Florence also asked that Rebekah be allowed to visit her brother and that Florence and Rebekah's retained expert neurologist, Vincent Fortanasce, M.D., be allowed to examine Robert and advise them as to his condition, prognosis and treatment.  ALL requests were denied by Judge McNatt.

Today, Florence visited Robert and observed that he is receiving morphine. Additionally, Robert and Rebekah's brother, Michael Hofer, who was seen at the hospital visiting Robert today, told that Rebekah he will try to make it possible for Rebekah and other family members to see Robert and say good-bye to him.

These and other issues will be addressed during the EMERGENCY press conference this afternoon.

Copies of the Petition for Instructions and other documents lodged with the San Joaquin County Superior Court, including correspondence from the attorney for Rose and Robert's court-appointed counsel, will be provided.

All inquiries regarding the press conference or other matters should be addressed to Florence and Rebekah's counsel, Janie Hickok Siess at (209)481-3815.