SVMC Needs Moral Overhaul, Vote for Pandyas

By Kim Pope, RNFA

As a traveling surgical nurse first assistant (RNFA) I worked at SVMC from 8/2018 – 2/2020. I was one of the people who cared for the unfortunate mother who died after an anesthesia mishap in the operating room (OR).

The widespread bullying I experienced at SVMC is unlike anything in my 45 year career. Many good people employed there fear retaliation. For them, and for the patients, I will share my experience and explain my support for both Pandyas for the hospital Board.

I was the RNFA for a c-section of a lady whose death was investigated by the health department. The case is now public information. Anesthesia was provided by Dr. Jagpal’s employee from Comfort Care Anesthesia. Without announcing it, she left the room for an extended period with the monitor alarms inaudible. Later, she returned and reported abnormal vital signs. I initiated CPR, but the anesthetist did not display knowledge of the CPR guidelines. She asked me to stop compressions early, even when there was still no pulse. The patient died weeks later.

An emergency can arise in the OR at any time. CPR is usually a forte of anesthesia providers. Typically, the mentorship of your employer and colleagues brings confidence in these skills. I know because I was director of an open-heart surgery program for 9 years. The anesthetist’s boss should have ensured her basic competencies but she clearly did not receive support working for Dr. Jagpal.

After the patient was stabilized, Dr. Jagpal tried to coerce me into saying the anesthetist was present for the whole procedure. He was more interested in hiding the events than showing remorse or evaluating his employee. When I was the Director of Surgical Services at a large Birmingham, AL hospital, I would have immediately met with the family, debriefed my employees, and made a remediation plan. From the Cleveland Clinic and Cedars Sinai Medical Center, to SVMC, I am a fierce patient advocate wherever I go. I was not put-off from telling the truth to the administration and health department.

After that I received multiple anonymous, threatening phone calls to “keep your mouth shut,” and “you need to stop talking about OB and go back to Alabama if you know what’s good for you.” Even my 84 year old mother received such a call. After this point the lateral violence from coworkers and clinical management on ‘Dr. Jagpal’s team,’ as well as bullying from certain physicians, intensified as I continued to speak out. Finally, they cancelled my contract.

Actually, the environment was hostile enough before this patient death, and, I’ve been told, before my time at SVMC. A culture of disrespect and management through intimidation permeates SVMC. While favorites or leadership would disagree, many employees seemed to feel the hospital administration did not value the OR and its staff very highly, and I had to agree. The reporting system where we could voice problems was a dead end. Sometimes the risk manager came to the OR to cover things up better, but that’s it. SVMC doesn’t even have an independent ethics hotline available for employees to report unethical incidents, like most hospitals do. Forget about reporting anonymously. I would have used this service many times at SVMC if they had one. Employees had nowhere to be heard or get support. Our concerns did not really matter.

In an area like Porterville with few options, most people stay in this traumatizing work environment because they need to feed their families. Having captive employees reduces the incentive for the organization to improve, or demand better from their contractors, like Dr. Jagpal. In my eyes, he took full advantage of this and created unparalleled toxicity for personal reasons. Dr. Jagpal’s few surgeon friends got unconditional cooperation and preferential treatment to get their operations done, day or night. Others were blocked out, especially if they had a challenging case, critically sick patient, or tend to speak up for quality improvement. Those surgeons benefitting participated in this too – avoid tough cases, trash-talk the surgeons who go the extra mile, and indoctrinate the impressionable staff in the toxic notion that there is only one right way to be a surgeon.

The staff is so deeply morally injured, that to keep from getting targeted further, they go along with this dangerous narrative. Some even felt a false sense of authority to question the judgement and skills of surgeons who have developed their abilities through intense training and study that the staff have no true knowledge about, including me.

Here’s one example of how this warfare was perpetrated: I was harshly interrogated multiple times while operating with one orthopedic surgeon to divulge specific details of operations done by specific other surgeons. He wanted points to criticize in their department meetings. I never had anything bad to say, but others would offer some random facts to avoid scrutiny, allowing him to disparage work he didn’t understand because he was just an orthopedist. This conversation would get carried by anesthesia providers into other rooms, allowing other surgeons and staff to embellish the negative story about a surgeon who was not present.

To fuel more virulent gossip, I watched as anesthesia providers repeatedly left the OR they were assigned to in the middle of operations to spy on the blacklisted surgeons while they were working, unaware. This was despite the fact that the state forbade this practice after the OB related death I described above.

I believe the OR leadership should have educated the staff on professionalism, variations in surgical practice, and how urgent cases or emergency room consultations work, so the staff could be relieved of some of this animosity. But no one in leadership provides these system insights and reinforces job expectations. This is how leadership is responsible for promoting the emotional abuse of the staff at the hands of the unethical people around them. It’s actually quite dangerous for patients. It prevents a safe and cohesive team approach to the patient by eliminating the possibility of trust in the captain of the OR: the surgeon.

Disrespect for surgical services means disrespect for patients and the community. Any of the surgeons or cardiologists who use operating rooms could’ve taken the initiative to speak up against the negative environment.

The only physicians I saw always speak up, do the right thing, and remain singularly fixed on the patient were Dr. Gaurang Pandya and Dr. Tejal Pandya. They never once changed what they thought was right based on how others treated them, and I know they paid dearly for it. I helped while they did case after difficult case with skill, patience, composure, and good humor. It was clear that they had confidence in our hospital and our staff.

They stopped to teach the team about the anatomy or pathology we were involved with, no matter the hour. When it was better for the patient, they operated together. I knew they were caring for patients others might have turned away, or sent to another city without their families. This means they are the only ones doing certain operations for the whole community, because no one else was willing to.

This is what Sierra View needs. The good people and good facilities you have cannot be put to good use without courageous moral leadership. The same backstabbing, animosity, and gridlock I saw in the OR is happening in your board, and with that nothing can be accomplished.

It does not surprise me at all that both of the Pandyas are running to make a change. They know exactly what is at stake. The Pandyas have demonstrated compassionate, creative, longitudinal dedication to the wellbeing of the Porterville community, inside and outside the hospital. For a happy, healthy SVMC that can meet its potential I wholeheartedly support both Pandyas for the Board. They will do the right thing regardless of the personal cost. In my eyes, they already have.

50 thoughts on “SVMC Needs Moral Overhaul, Vote for Pandyas

(Commenter ID is a unique per-article, per-person commenter identifier. If multiple names have the same Commenter ID, it is likely they are the same person. For more information, click here.)

    • KIM USED HER REAL NAME. Why don’t you post with your real name instead of being manipulative and hiding behind an alias? What are you scared of??

      This case is NOW PUBLIC INFORMATION. Jagpal is MURDERER who is killing people for personal profit, and your best defense is this article is by a “disgruntled employee”?? SERIOUSLY?!!!

      Jagpal – even if you had the money and the power to go Scott free, there is a higher court where you will definitely be going to hell!!!

      If you’re so sure of the 99% of the staff of SVMC being against Pandya’s, why don’t you ask them to pen an opinion column using your REAL IDENTITIES? Oh wait – because this 99% number is fictitious… Everything you’re saying is FAKE NEWS!!!

      Anyone who read this and isn’t voting for the PANDYA’S is OUT OF THEIR MIND!! If nothing else, you should vote for Pandya’s in the name of human decency so they can hold Jagpal and others accountable for their evil sins!!!!

  1. As a long-standing employee of Sierra View and of surgical services, I am appalled at what I have read. This traveler came to Sierra View to work as an RNFA however the toxicity and negative environment she created was so bad that full time employees considered leaving. The incident that is referred to here and in another article was a devastating event to all involved and for these selfish human beings to use this for their own personal gain is just cruel and disgusting. No one has even thought to mention the countless patients the Pandya’s have killed or darn near close, the multiple bring backs to the operating room, or the the patients that they have told they’ve “saved their life” only to have a lower quality of life because of the unnecessary experiments performed on them. The employees are afraid to speak up because Dr. Pandya is already on the board and it is scary to think about what will happen if his wife wins. And, while we’re at it, it is a well known fact that Ms. Tejal Pandya has already purchased a home in the Springville area, the zone that is up for election next year. Ela keeps touting that it takes 3 to form a voting block, there you have it and as an employee I am fearful for my job if these people get elected, and the people of the community should be too.
    I have gone through multiple leadership in surgical services and no doubt there have been some tough times, I believe everyone goes through them, but the entire team in surgical services at Sierra View are a devoted, committed bunch of people. I have had other job offers and opportunities and have turned them down because I love my job, my co-workers and I care about my community. Ms. Kim Pope, I would like to say I am surprised to see that you wrote this, but honestly I am not, it just proves what most of us have known all along..

    • KIM USED HER REAL NAME. Why don’t you post with your real name instead of being manipulative and hiding behind an alias? What are you scared of??

      This case is NOW PUBLIC INFORMATION. Jagpal is MURDERER who is killing people for personal profit, and your best defense is this article is by a “disgruntled employee”?? And that Ms. Tejal Pandya decided to buy a house somewhere??? SERIOUSLY?!!!

      Jagpal – even if you had the money and the power to go Scott free, there is a higher court where you will definitely be going to hell!!!

      If you’re so sure of the 99% of the staff of SVMC being against Pandya’s, why don’t you ask them to pen an opinion column using your REAL IDENTITIES? Oh wait – because this 99% number is fictitious… Everything you’re saying is FAKE NEWS!!!

      Anyone who read this and isn’t voting for the PANDYA’S is OUT OF THEIR MIND!! If nothing else, you should vote for Pandya’s in the name of human decency so they can hold Jagpal and others accountable for their evil sins!!!!

      • What kind of vile person are you?? You want to call me out for using an alias, yet you yourself use one and are slandering an innocent man. Kim’s contract was terminated, she will never work for SVMC again, I on the other hand, as Ms. Pope pointed out, have a family to feed, and as I stated, I am fearful for my job if the Pandya’s win so no I won’t be using my real name and you can call me a coward but I really don’t care.
        And it’s crazy, I didn’t even mention Jagpal in my response but I’ll go ahead and say that what these people are doing to him is terrible, anyone that REALLY knows him can see that he is one of the kindest people, he would give his shirt off his back to anyone in need. The situation that happened was devastating however he can’t be blamed for it.

      • Tejal Pandya you need to stop with your anonymous post. It’s obviously You, compare your previous post on the other articles and the writing style is the same we had it analyzed. #neverpandyas

        • The truth is out!!! And your comment sounds like coming from a scared little puppy..

          This is not Tejal. This is a neutral third party observer who is watching attacks on the poor Pandya family from vicious incompetent people like Jagpal and you.

          Trust me, Dr. Tejal doesn’t have time for your bullshit. She’s busy in the OR saving lives!!

          “Had your writing analyzed” SERIOUSLY?? 🤣🤣 What century are you living in Sherlock Holmes??

  2. Having worked with this person in the past and I can tell you she is just a bitter individual that was terminated by the hospital for her inappropriate behavior. She is just as horrible as the Pandya’s. Ask any employee who directly works with the Pandya’s, they are known as the “Butchers of the Operating Room”. The only reason they work together as a team is because Dr Tejal Pandya cannot do cases by herself, she hasn’t been a surgeon for very long and uses our community and her patients as practice dummies to learn. Don’t listen to disgruntled employees who were let go. Talk to your family or friends that work at the hospital and ask them if they would allow the Pandya’s to operate on their families. I guarantee that 99% of the staff at SVMC would tell you they would recommend their families go to someone else. The Pandya’s are horrible bitter greedy people that only care about their pockets not patient care, definitely not the community.

    • KIM USED HER REAL NAME. Why don’t you post with your real name instead of being manipulative and hiding behind an alias? What are you scared of??

      This case is NOW PUBLIC INFORMATION. Jagpal is MURDERER who is killing people for personal profit, and your best defense is this article is by a “disgruntled employee”?? SERIOUSLY?!!!

      Jagpal – even if you had the money and the power to go Scott free, there is a higher court where you will definitely be going to hell!!!

      If you’re so sure of the 99% of the staff of SVMC being against Pandya’s, why don’t you ask them to pen an opinion column using your REAL IDENTITIES? Oh wait – because this 99% number is fictitious… Everything you’re saying is FAKE NEWS!!!

      Anyone who read this and isn’t voting for the PANDYA’S is OUT OF THEIR MIND!! If nothing else, you should vote for Pandya’s in the name of human decency so they can hold Jagpal and others accountable for their evil sins!!!!

  3. I worked with Kim in the OR and ironically she NEVER reported any of the allegations listed above to HR or anyone else because she is lying! She was a habitual whiner and lazy. Everyone working in the OR knows Dr. Pandya and his daughter do experimental procedures on patients, in their office and at the hospital, in fact the state paid them a visit recently. So do you believe one person who complained a lot and was a troublemaker, who NEVER stated the above until TODAY?! The Pandyas are demented and attack anyone who speaks out against them.

  4. KIM POPE SHAME ON YOU! GOD KNOWS THE TRUTH FUNNY YOU NEVER SAID A THING ABOUT THIS BUT DECIDE TO POST A DRAMA-FILLED FICTIONAL PIECE. THIS POST BY KIM POPE IS 💯💯💯💯💯 B.S.
    The 💯 I posted above put in the wrong place. DO NOT VOTE FOR THE PANDYAS!!

    • WOW JC, this is exactly what BULLIES did to Christine Blasey Ford, when she personally spoke up against confirming Bret Kavanaugh.

      She used her real name, and risked her and her family’s safety by stepping out in public. And people like you maligned her and called her all sort of names, hiding behind aliases!!!

      YOU NEED TO STOP THIS SEXISM AND ATTACKING HER. IF THIS IS WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO A STRAGNER, I CANT IMAGINE WHAT YOU DO TO YOUR MOM, SISTER AND WIFE!!!

      SHAME ON YOU!!! GO back and hide under the anonymous rock that you crawled out from, a nd leave decent hard working people alone.

      • Whatever Tejal!!! You’re a HYPOCRITE using an alias so you can attack anyone who speaks the truth and then you are reprimanding anyone for also using an alias?! I used my initials. You and your father are psychos.

        • LOL I’m not Tejal you MORON… I’m sure everyone is enjoying your childish tantrum here. Dr. Tejal doesn’t even know and is busy in the OR saving lives!!

          And btw, there is NO EXCUSE FOR JAGPAL KILLING PEOPLE. It was already out in the PUBLIC DOMAIN – Kim just brought the crime to attention.

          But you’re resorting to your normal sexism and name calling.

          The timing of your attack on Kim are a CLEAR SIGN OF DESPERATION.

          Tejal isn’t even on the ballot, so this outburst is getting you NOWHERE 😂😂

          And I’m on my fifth packet of popcorn already!! What does JC stand for? Jackie Chan haha??🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿😂😂😂

      • What’s a “stragner”? The nervous sweat oozing from your pores is causing your fingers to slip on the keyboard.

        And J.C., everyone knows that this person is “Martha Flores”, the mayor of Porterville. Totally. 100 percent. (Go do some sleuthing over at the other article to see what I mean.)

  5. Kim Pope is not a stranger. I worked with her and she NEVER mentioned a majority of what she alleges in this article. How does that make me a bully Tejal? You’re the bulldog attacking everyone in this article and the others using an alias. I’m at peace I know the truth.

    • Why are you so fixated on Tejal? She’s not even on the ballot. And this IS NOT TEJAL.. LEARN TO READ.

      JAGPAL IS EXPOSED!!

      DID YOU READ WHAT KIM SAID?

      “I was harshly interrogated multiple times while operating with one orthopedic surgeon to divulge specific details of operations done by specific other surgeons. He wanted points to criticize in their department meetings. I never had anything bad to say”.

      Kim NEVER MENTIONED IT to you because maybe not everyone wants to play evil politics and treat human lives like a BUSINESS PRODUCT!!

      And just because she didn’t want to get involved, so she’s lying now?? Just like women who are sexually assaulted don’t speak up, so they are lying when they do??? This statement REEKS OF MALE CHAUVINISM and ENTITLEMENT!!

      And guess what, the proof is in the pudding. Kim was right not so speak up, as she was fired anyway.

      Leave these women and Pandya’s alone, and go crawl back under the rock from where you came.

      And if you’re honest and genuine, help Bring JAGPAL To JUSTICE.

      #BJTJ ⚖️👨‍⚖️

      • By the way hypocrite, why are YOU posting numerous replies using various aliases (with the SAME Commenter ID) defending the Pandyas & attacking Dr. Jagpal?! B
        Kim Pope’s allegation against Dr. Jagpal is FALSE.

        • It’s out in the public domain!!

          You can cry wolf as hard as you want, but it’s impossible for anyone to believe your one word characterization (“FALSE”) of this DAMNING STORY. It looks like personal attacks, name calling and baseless allegations are all you have.. and your DESPERATION is GETTING PATHETIC.

          About my anonymity – it doesn’t matter. I am not on the ballot, and JAGPAL IS EXPOSED AS A MURDERER!! I’m just surfacing the truth.

          If you have any facts to prove anything against the Pandya’s rather than your personal opinions and jealousy, then bring them forward.

          Otherwise, excuse me while I get my popcorn while you throw your temper tantrum🍿🤣

  6. Please recommend to fact check all the misleading statements made in this article . When I went to work today all the Doctors and the Employees were in tears they felt so helpless to respond to this slandering . I assured them we are going to contact the required agencies. They assured me that these types are allegation are going to be thoroughly investigated and dealt with rule of Law. Thanking every one standing by me .

  7. Commenter 324b0a09, aka the Pandya bulldog (probably Tejal or Ela) is also the commenter ae69 in the first article https://www.ourvalleyvoice.com/2020/10/02/contentious-election-erupts-at-sierra-view-hospital/#comment-79484.

    The interesting thing to note is that this “mysterious” person tried to IMPERSONATE the MAYOR in a comment on October 5. They go by the tag ae6921f3 over there.

    In any case, they are a source of endless entertainment, much like the Pandyas.

  8. I have personally known and worked in the OR with Dr Kuldeep Jagpal for 8 years in multiple Hospitals and I can assure you all that that he is not only a Great Anesthesiologist, skilled, safe, and very Knowledgeable but he is courteous, professional and extremely likable and respected by his peers and coworkers, not to say that he is one of the most wonderful and nicest person I have ever met. It is sad to see how low certain people can go to try to ruin and discredit the reputation of a great professional and even better human being.

    • This is the real Dr. Tejal Pandya. When I have something to say, I stick my neck out and say it myself. Thank you to diligent supporters and defenders. I appreciate you.
      Dr. Mendoza – thank you for your service at SVMC. I always am relieved when you are on call and I have a sick patient because I know they are in well-skilled hands. You have never refused one of my or my father’s patients service, whether you like us personally or not, and I appreciate your professionalism.
      Unfortunately, you are not at SVMC all the time, and my patients don’t always get that level of courtesy. The discussion in this election is not about Dr. Jagpal as a person or as a physician. It’s about the power he has to withhold or delay access to anesthesia and the operating room whenever he decides to, even though he has already taken payment from the hospital.
      Take a look at all election related statements from all candidates. Pandyas are discussing public access to anesthesia and public cost for that, that’s it. Dr. Jagpal just happens to be the one responsible for this. In contrast, Dr. Jagpal has publicly maligned my and my father’s surgical skills, something he is not trained to judge. Dr. Mendoza – be careful whom you allow to borrow your good reputation.

  9. The vile filth that is spewed at the Pandya’s and blatant body shaming that is going on is disgusting. To accuse Tejal of not using her name when she does on a regular basis is a new low. When people start stooping to personal attacks over facts and evidence, that’s usually a good indication that they are hiding or trying to distract/discredit their opponent who has facts on their side. The Pandya’s are great people, skillful with their surgeries, and care for their patients. I have nothing but the upmost respect for them, what they have done, and what they have given back to the community.

    Full disclosure: Tejal and I went to high school together and had a couple classes together.

  10. Please contact all employees, surgeons , Doctors or staff regarding the quality of Anesthesia and our Excellent services at Sierra View Hospital. Don”t believe what some people are putting out in advertisement, articles, foot notes. These people are out to destroy the functioning of the hospital. Please contact you personal Physicians to get the truth. We all at Sierra View hospital must work together to bring the truth out to Public. We have to stand against misleading statements together. Truth always wins.

  11. I just finished a lengthy back-and-forth with Ela Pandya in the comments section of the previous article. I thought her nasty tone and use of multiple aliases would be restricted to one article, but clearly I was wrong. Just more lying and ranting. How does she not get exhausted by this?

  12. Hey Dr. Mendoza,

    Thanks for sharing your completely valid, first-hand experience, and on behalf of the entire Indian subcontinent, I apologize for the embarrassing patronizing answer provided by Tejal.

    Have you noticed how she didn’t say a word denouncing the crazy commenter calling Jagpal a “MuRdErEr”? Not a single word. That’s because it’s the Pandya alt account.

    I can share an informative episode, just so you get where some of us are coming from: At some point, the Pandyas had a very public dispute with another Indian family, let’s call them “the Smiths”. At one critical point, the victims received a really nasty text message from a masked number. The text threatened to spread gossip around the Central Valley about one of the Smith’s. Unfortunately for the Pandyas, the number was traced back to….drum roll….the *Pandya’s private practice office*! This revelation is now well-known in the community, and everyone chuckles.

    So, we are confident that the crazy account accusing people of murder is someone in the Pandya family.

  13. I’m sorry “More Information” but your unverifiable story doesn’t hold a candle to the seriousness of Kim’s claim in this article.

    My takeaway from the article is that this was a serious case of medical negligence and malfeasance, but it was brushed aside by the Dr. Jagpal using his power and influence.

    Quoting from the article: “Dr. Jagpal tried to coerce me into saying the anesthetist was present for the whole procedure… After that I received multiple anonymous, threatening phone calls to “keep your mouth shut,” and “you need to stop talking about OB and go back to Alabama if you know what’s good for you.” Even my 84 year old mother received such a call. After this point the lateral violence from coworkers and clinical management on ‘Dr. Jagpal’s team’.”

    I was undecided until now, but the latest string of stories and comments by you and others here attacking the Pandya’s is supporting everything Kim said.

    In my view, the current administration needs to change. I cannot risk either my future, or that of my kids and grandkids to fall under such a dangerous situation.

    I just voted for the Pandyas.

    Thank you,
    MJ

  14. Out of curiosity I read Kim Pope’s expose’ and then, unfortunately, the subsequent comments. It seems there are those with a vendetta against the Dr.’s Pandya and Ela Pandya. Anonymous accusations and personal insults, an irrational fixation on an imaginary member of their family, undignified stupid gossip, and other such dirty deeds do not show their opponents in very good light in my eyes. I’ll leave it at that.

  15. Expose is when you find out the truth. Please Contact all Doctors , Employees , ER and patients received care at Sierra View Hospital and know the truth. 98% of the people cannot be wrong. We are in the process of exposing lies and misinformation spread . We are all in this together. We shall not rest until the truth comes out.If we sit as silent spectators lot peoples lives and reputations will be lost. Slandering and misinformation has to stop. Have been in this community for 12 yrs.It is hard to believe that few people can spread so much of misinformation. I

  16. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this hospital board election, about what’s at stake, and what this election will say about us as a people. The more I think about it, the more an old Mexican saying comes to mind, “No se puede hacer una peluca con el pelo del culo de un burro”: You can’t make a wig from the hair on a donkey’s ass.

    It will take some time to explain what this means, and will require me to share deeply personal stories about my ancestors, but I hope you’ll take a few minutes to understand where I’m coming from. It’s a long story, and although I was not born at the time, I will tell it as if I experienced it myself, because in a way, I feel I did.

    My ancestors grew up in the small town of Pitzacuarino, nestled in the foothills of the Pico de Tancitaro mountain range in the Mexican state of Michoacán. The town is now abandoned. You’ll soon understand why.

    Pitzacuarino was a happy place. The children laughed and played, the adults gaily tended the field, and the elders regaled us with folktales around the campfire. It was our own little Mexican utopia.

    That all changed with the drought of ’58. The drought killed nearly all the crops: our wheat, our lemons, our chili peppers, our avocados… all GONE. The death of our crops lead to the death of our livestock. Only one crop remained, maize (corn), and only one animal was resilient enough to live off it: the burro (donkey).

    Our diet consisted entirely of corn, donkey meat, and donkey milk. We would cook little chunks of donkey meat in the open fire, then wrap them inside our corn tortillas, hence the origin of the term “burrito”. But our nutrient-deficient diet lead to a crippling condition known as pellagra, caused by a deficiency of essential amino acids.

    Pellagra caused all manner of ailments, including diarrhea, dementia, and mouth sores. We Mexican women could live with that, but what we could not live with was the other problem pellagra caused: hair loss.

    Mexican women worship their hair. In our culture, good hair is a sign of health, fertility, and beauty (keep in mind, this was long before the days of “body positivity” and “loving yourself how you are”). A woman’s worth was directly related to the quality of her hair. Losing our hair was like losing a part of our souls.

    But Mexican women are nothing if not resourceful. We sheared the hair off donkeys to create beautiful, lustrous wigs, giving rise to the profession pelucador del burro (donkey wigmaker). The greatest pelucador in town was my abuela (grandmother), Maria Conchita de Soto Fernandez Cisneros Rodriguez de Martinez. Her wigs were made for the most important day in a Mexican girl’s life: her quinceañera. Rumor has it that her wigs were so beautiful that even the ugliest of girls would have ten suitors ready to take her back to his pueblo on her quinceañera night.

    But the shearing of donkey hair led to an unexpected and deadly problem: donkey hypothermia. When the winter came, the naked donkeys could not keep warm. The delightful HEE-HAWs that previously lit up the eyes of our little babies were replaced with slow, feeble haa-haas. They fell ill, couldn’t take food, and sadly, passed. On one day alone we lost 27 donkeys, known today as Día Del Burro Muerto (“Day of the Dead Donkey”).

    Luckily, a few donkeys survived, and my people were able to get through the winter. But there was no longer enough donkey hair for the quinceañeras. Some considered stopping the quinceañeras altogether, but we knew that a girl without a quinceañera was cursed to live a life of poverty and childlessness.

    That’s when my abuela decided to try the unthinkable: make a wig from the hair of a donkey’s ass. The idea was roundly mocked, and for good reason. Anyone who looked at the hair on a donkey’s ass could see what the problem was: it was too thick, too coarse, too stiff, and too dull.

    My abuela was unfazed. She sheared the donkey ass hair, and spent countless nights filing it down with stones, shining it with corn oil, and softening it up with donkey milk . She made it into a wig, and prepared it for the first girl to have a quinceañera that spring: Isabela.

    Isabela was not like the other girls. Named after Queen Isabela of Spain, she was by far the most beautiful girl in the town. She had long slender legs, a cherubic red face, and ample bosom. All the boys wanted to marry her. All the girls wanted to be her. Before she went bald from pellagra, her hair was a soft golden brown. If anyone could look good in the wig, it was her.

    When the day of her quinceañera arrived, my abuela spent hours alone with her in her pueblo, fixing her wig just right, and fashioning a white gown from one of the few remaining pieces of fabric in the town: an old potato sack. To my abuela’s eyes, Isabela was as beautiful as she’d ever been.

    The entire town stood outside the pueblo door, waiting to see their little princess become a queen. My abuela stood her up, walked her to the door, and opened it to….

    SCREAMS OF HORROR.

    This was no queen, this was a MONSTER. The hair was coiled around her head like a bed of SNAKES. Gusting wind wrapped the long flowing locks tightly around her arms and neck, making it appear as though the snakes were strangling the life out of her. Some swear to this day that they saw a snake’s mouth open from atop her head, fanged, hissing, and shooting venom at them.

    The children ran screaming. The adults vomited blood and bile. The elderly simply died of shock.

    After several prolonged minutes of screaming, a good samaritan grabbed a nearby donkey bone and knocked the wig off Isabela’s head, freeing her from its clutches but also inadvertently concussing her in the process. The wig was quickly covered with a basket, then later dumped into a pit of scalding acid.

    The townspeople were traumatized, believing they had seen La Diabla, the mythical Female Devil and sex partner of the Chupacabra. Isabela was banished from the town. She pled for mercy, but many said they would sooner gouge out their own eyes than look at her again. Rumor has it she subsisted for weeks on a diet of cockroaches and iguana droppings, before eventually taking her life by climbing mount Pico de Tancitaro and jumping into a dormant volcano.

    Spring arrived, but the rains never came. The town was cursed, and everyone fled. My abuela and abuelo had nowhere to go, so they simply walked north until they reached America, a country they had never heard of. They were met at the border by immigration officials. Despite having no papers and speaking not a word of English, they were immediately let in. Years later it was revealed that they were let in not out of kindness, but fear. The border agents said they had seen dark clouds part in the sky overhead, revealing a screaming teenage girl with coiled snakes on her head, wearing nothing but a blood-soaked potato sack. They settled in America, had children, and eventually, myself included, grandchildren.

    So you’re probably wondering: What does all this have to do with a local hospital board election? Well, my abuela’s mantra in life after that dark day was “No se puede hacer una peluca con el pelo del culo de un burro”: You can’t make a wig from the hair on a donkey’s ass.

    In other words, you can’t take something hideous and ugly (donkey’s ass hair) and turn it into something beautiful (a wig).

    I believe our wig, our beautiful thing, is our hospital. It is a place where people of all different races, creeds, and nationalities can come together to love and heal. In just a single day at the hospital, you can have a Pakistani cancer surgeon remove a tumor from a Salvadorean farm worker’s testicle, or a Nigerian gynecologist deliver a half-Puerto Rican, half-Mongolian baby.

    I believe that our hospital is the heart and soul of our city. It is beautiful. Our hospital board, in turn, must also be beautiful.

    But as my abuela has taught me, you cannot make something beautiful from something ugly. The Pandyas are the donkey ass hair that we are trying to turn into a beautiful quinceañera wig. It is not possible. It cannot be done. You cannot make them beautiful.

    Thank You

    • What an incredible story! It must be really hard to write about all the trauma your family went through. I feel like I leaned a lot about you and your familys struggle. I want our hospital to be a place of beauty and healing as well.

      Thank you for sharing!!

    • Yesenia,

      Your story is incredible. It was riveting and inspirational. I felt transported back to 1950s Mexico.

      I read your story aloud to my brother Billy, a paraplegic War Hero who is forced to defecate through a colostomy bag. I told it to him in between spoonfeeding him his favorite meal of mashed tater tots and baby carrots.

      I’ve heard countless stories from him and his war buddies, but I’ve never heard anything like this. Those are stories of violence and destruction. This was a story of hope and love. We both had tears in our eyes hearing about what your abuela was willing to do for her family and community.

      If Donald Trump had been president at that time, and not the great War Hero Dwight David Eisenhower, your grandparents would probably not have even been let into our country.

      I am so SICK of Trump and his jingoism and xenophobia. Our country needs MORE immigrants like you and your family. And we need to hear more stories from People of Color and the Indigenous.

      Thank you for providing brother Billy and me a chance to escape our narrow, insular, America-centric worldview and spend a few minutes hearing a Latina’s story of hope and resilience.

      VOTE OUT TRUMP, AND VOTE OUT THE TRUMP-LOVING PANDYAS

      God Bless you, God Bless America, and God Bless IMMIGRANTS!!!!

      • John,

        I’m afraid you are trying to make a baseless emotional appeal here, by lumping the Pandya’s with Trump. What evidence do you have to show that the Pandyas are “Trump-loving”?

  17. I have given these comments and accusations great thought. There are just a few things that I need to make more clear.I was not terminated. There was a mistake with my agency and SVMC and per usual the OR leadership took the low road. I must admit it was a matter of time as SVMC was looking for a reason to send me away as I could not be brought into the toxic and unprofessional slander and continuous hate mongering.
    To call me lazy, whiner and a troublemaker..JC YOU do not know me. Who I talked to and what I talked about is none of your business. Your accusations in all comments are reflective of a defensive person working in a toxic environment lacking in leadership.
    Fearful employee, you have no fear from the board as they have no direct effect employment of staff. I would be more fearful of being apart of the team that allows the “Chief” to start a procedure without proper time out and the prep not allowed to dry.
    Dr. Jagpal tries to bring a sense of humor to the OR..unless you are not a TOXIC TEAM PLAYER.
    I was not.
    As I stood face to face with Dr. Jagpal during the horrible OB/OR
    situation I saw the hate in his eyes because I was fighting truth..he was looking for a cover-up. His voice had no kindness toward the patient and family.
    I did not call Dr. Jagpal a murder.
    As the owner of Comfort Care Aneshesia his lack of leadership and professionalism were on full display. The State visits SVMC frequently about many defeciets of care. Concerning anesthesia leaving the room and supposedly rules changed to stop that behavior…the reviewers from State were not even back to their cars before certain anesthesia were leaving the room to go spread their toxic words to whomever would listen. They left the communities citizens under anesthesia. Managing his employees is Dr. Jagpal’s responsibility and he failed.
    As a board member I can only believe Dr. Jagpal would would demonstrate the same lack of leadership and professionalism.
    Dr. Jagpal, I read your threats to all who commented against you and your response for full investigation. I have touched on the most difficult case in my 45 yrs as a nurse. But investigations and reporting.. work both ways.
    In my short 18 months at SVMC I could write a book that could be read by the Richter Scale.
    The donkey ass hair wig story was a wonderful read but I failed to find any relevance. I know the Pandya family professionally and personally. I find them all to be beautiful inside and out, especially when it comes to service to Porterville citizens as patients or just neighbors sharing in a common good of helping others.

    • Kim,

      We the people appreciate you sharing your story. If I interpreted Yesenia’s post properly — and Yesenia please correct any misunderstandings — the idea is: if a donkey’s ass hair is used to create a wig, then bad things can happen. For example, in the 50’s in Mexico, a girl named Isabela put one on and died.

      Yesenia, you’ve spoken truth to power from the beginning and throughout this election. You are the reason we now know that all individuals involved except Bindusagar Reddy (Ela Pandya’s opponent who didnt suddenly buy a house to fool voters) are staunch Trump supporters. Thank you both for opening my eyes.

      I’m ready for change. I’m ready for wigs without donkey ass hair. I’m ready for Reddy.

      • I am sorry to inform you, but even Bindusagar Reddy supports Trump. He too has been a staunch Republican all his adult life. Reddy, Jagpal, and Pandyas all support Trump. I’ve heard all of them talk politics at our Indian get togethers over the years.

        It’s disappointing, and is one of the reasons I’m considering sitting out the hospital elections altogether. We don’t seem to have any good choices.

  18. Kim I would like to have full investigations regarding all the treats made against you and your family and your mother. I feel for you . We are ready to hire investigating agency to get bottom of that. I am all the way with you.no body should suffer from intimidation or threats from anybody or we will pay for the investigation. Also i feel should report this to law enforcement immediately.

  19. Kim you will have my full cooperation. Also to bring witness where I told you to change your story. I was interviewed by multiple agencies . The only thing they were perplexed was I should up within two minutes of after paging me. They doubted that. After checking Camera they did believe me. Always had so much respect for you. In my life always did best to my abilities. For your information I was a director here from 2000 to 2003. They wanted a new group here. After six weeks I left the Anesthesia department fell apart. Because of multiple request and hundred of phone calls it took me six years to come back and take back the contract . There are multiple hospitals where they want me.. I get so much of love and respect in this Hospital that I ready to work for free. SVDH is like home and all the employees are my family..

  20. Kim I am glad about your article. Almost whole town and the hospital knows the truth. My Mom said always be graceful in long term if you are righteous you will win. It has exposed some ugly truths about some individuals who are out to destroy our hospital and the the community,

  21. After carefully reading this article and the comments and a lot of thought, I have decided to cast my vote for Dr. Pandya tomorrow.

    Kim – my heart goes out to you and your grandmother. We’re living in an extremely polarized country where bullying is so rampant and acceptable. It needs to stop, and it can only be done when citizens like us care for and protect each other, and take responsibility to stop it.

    I want to thank you for showing the cottage to speak up and write this article. I’m sorry that you had to go through all these hardships, but please know that you your community and fellow citizens are with you. After reading your fervent appeal, I feel it would be immoral for anyone not to support the Pandyas and give them a chance to bring accountability and civility back into our hospital system.

    I will vote for Dr. Pandya tomorrow.

  22. You can vote for Pandyas before that you should help person like Kim and report all the accusation She is making. You are more interested in voting Then helping kim with all the accusation She is making. Voting is immaterial We as a Community should help her so that the people who were harassing or intimating should be brought to justice. The phone calls all the threats and intimidation. I personally feel for her and here we are more interested whom we are going to vote for her.

  23. Kim you should expose all the people including me with evidence. We will help you with process. The allegations you are making are serious and grievous. If you are not just doing this to help Pandyas to win a election you should come forward we all will help you to get to the bottom of the truth.

  24. This is sad what Some people are doing to the community. We are going to stand to all the disinformation just one Family is doing. The sad part is they are destroying themselves and maligning the Hospital, doctors and the community. We should stand up to this bullies for that the whole Hospital , doctors , staff and the community has to stand to gather. Almost 20 yrs they have destroyed reputations of hundred of peoples since I have known them. We can not be silent spectators then we are also complaisant.

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