An uncooperative tuberculosis patient was arrested Thursday on a $250,000 warrant and taken directly from Lodi Memorial Hospital to the county jail.
It was the first time officials can ever remember such a warrant being served in Lodi and is the first case of its kind this year in San Joaquin County.
Bobby Presley, 48, a transient, had been quarantined at the hospital since Aug. 10 but was leaving his room, refusing to take his medication and saying he wanted to leave the area, according to the arrest warrant.
"Hospitals do not have to put up with this," said Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor, who has been handling such cases since 1984. "If patients can't work with staff, they'll go from a hospital room with a window to a jail cell."
That's what happened to Presley, who wore a turquoise face mask as Lodi Police Cpl. Roger Butterfield walked him out of the hospital to a waiting police car shortly after noon on Thursday. The thin, balding man wore a sweatshirt and jeans and commented about the "helter skelter" media when he saw a reporter and photographer.
His hospital room had a television, but medical isolation cells at the county jail in French Camp do not have such amenities, said Sheriff's spokesman Les Garcia.
Each case is different, but typical tuberculosis treatment takes about six months, with the first two weeks in quarantine, said Schyerle Beal, infection control coordinator at Lodi Memorial Hospital. After two weeks, the patient is no longer contagious and may leave the hospital, but must take the full treatment to prevent the disease from mutating into a drug-resistant form.
If the disease becomes drug-resistant, it can require surgery and can ultimately lead to death. Additionally, the drug-resistant form may be passed on to others through the air, as happened this summer in the nationally publicized case of a 27-year-old Arizona man who flew on a plane while infected. That man has since had a lung removed as part of his treatment.
The bacterial disease usually affects the lungs and can be fatal if not treated; at one point it was the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Presley took a tuberculosis test in April as part of a requirement to stay at a homeless shelter in Sacramento. A subsequent X-ray was abnormal and a fluid sample was taken April 23. On May 17, the sample was reported as positive for tuberculosis and reported to Sacramento County health officials. However, Presley had since left the shelter.
In May and June, Presley spent time at the Salvation Army's Hope Harbor shelter, formerly known as the Archway Shelter, on North Sacramento Street in Lodi. Staff there said he hadn't actually lived at the shelter since late March, and that he had not tested positive for tuberculosis at that time.
Everyone admitted to the shelter is tested for tuberculosis within a few days unless they have records of a test within the past year, said house manager Dave Warner.
After Presley allegedly threatened staff members at the shelter, a judge signed a restraining order against him on July 3, according to documents filed with the arrest warrant.
On Aug. 1, San Joaquin County's Public Health Department issued an isolation order against Presley, and Lodi Police caught up to him Aug. 10 at the Imperial Hotel, 9 W. Oak St., where he was living. He was taken by ambulance to Lodi Memorial Hospital that day.
The hospital had three tuberculosis cases last year and places all such patients in rooms designed to prevent others from getting the disease, Beal said. The air flow system is designed so that air does not drift into the hallway when the door is opened, and air from the room is filtered before it goes directly outside the building, she said.
Presley was housed in such a room at the hospital, but he had left the room several times. When public health employees explained the quarantine process, Presley said he wanted to leave the area as soon as possible. When told that he must continue receiving treatment even after the hospital released him, he said he planned to leave anyway because he didn't like the "restrictions," according to the arrest warrant.
On Saturday morning, he twice refused to take his medication and began yelling at a nurse. Twice that day he left his room and security had to be called, and on Monday he tried to leave in order to smoke.
Some people have latent TB, which is not contagious and has no symptoms but may later turn into active TB, which can be spread through the air. Those most susceptible to active TB are children and those with weakened immune systems caused by substance abuse, cancer, leukemia, low body weight or arthritis.
Symptoms of active TB include a cough lasting more than three weeks, chest pain and coughing up blood or phlegm, as well as fatigue, weight loss, chills, fever and loss of appetite.
• 2 million: number of annual worldwide TB-related deaths
• 14,097: number of TB cases reported in the U.S. in 2005, a 3.8 percent decline from the previous year
• 662: deaths in the U.S. in 2004, down from 711 the previous year
Source: Centers for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov/tb.
"Mr. Presley has repeatedly demonstrated his disregard for the public's health and his own health. He has a history of alcohol abuse. He has proven that he is a danger to himself and the public," Supervising Public Health Nurse Pam Costamagna wrote in a request for an arrest warrant.
Court records show that Presley, who also uses the name Kenneth Vanderford, is wanted on four separate misdemeanor warrants for public intoxication charges in Lodi. He also has previous public intoxication convictions in Stockton.
Costamagna sent her arrest request to Taylor on Wednesday afternoon and by Thursday morning Taylor had taken the matter to Judge Richard Mallett, who signed the warrant for misdemeanor charges of refusing to comply with tuberculosis treatment.
The whole process can take as little as half an hour, unlike other counties in the state, Taylor said.
"When people pay their county taxes, this is the service they get. It's the county's job to protect the public from infectious diseases," Taylor said. An average of two such cases are processed each year throughout the county, he said.
One time a few years ago, he said, public health nurses got such an arrest warrant in Stockton and found the man sitting on a public bench. Police officers were busy on other calls, Taylor said, so the nurses put the man in the back of a Dodge Dart and drove him to the jail, booking him themselves.
Presley will remain in the medical ward at the county jail until his treatment is complete, Taylor said.
He is expected to be appointed a public defender today, but he will not appear in court until medically cleared. He faces a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail.
In the meantime, public health officials have notified the shelter and hotel where Presley stayed, said Dr. Karen Furst, the county's public health officer. She said there is no reason for panic and that anyone who was near Presley and has not been tested may go to any local clinic to receive a tuberculosis test.