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Stab Victim Faced Wait for Treatment

By Hyun Soo Kim
Associate News Editor

On Nov. 20, John P. Olynyk '94, bleeding from knife wounds to the back and lower waist, had to wait 20 minutes to be taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment after an initial check-up at the MIT Medical Center.

Olynyk and Sean C. Chappe '94, both members of Delta Kappa Epsilon, were stabbed when they tried to eject eight males suspected of stealing from their fraternity party. The suspects, who are not affiliated with MIT, are still at large.

Olynyk, whose shirt was already soaked with blood, and Chappe, who was also stabbed but was no longer bleeding, were driven to the MIT Medical Center by Brian F. Brown '93, another DKE member. "We were in a pretty panicky mood. The driver was screaming at them to open up [the door to the medical center]. It seemed like a long time before they came down. A [Campus Police officer] came down in an elevator to bring us up," Chappe said.

Olynyk checked into the MIT Medical Center at midnight, according to medical center records. MG* records show that Olynyk checked into the emergency room there at 12:33 a.m.

An MG* security officer said the commute from MIT to the hospital should take seven to 10 minutes at that time on a Saturday morning.

Arnold N. Weinberg, director of the medical department, denied that there was any unreasonable delay. Olynyk "was evaluated by a physician to make sure the injury he had was not life-threatening," he said.

`I was just there bleeding'

According to Olynyk, the MIT Medical Center staff immediately checked his blood pressure, pulse, and breathing to make sure his lung had not been punctured.

"They did put a stethoscope to my back and checked my blood pressure, and after that I was just sitting there. They asked four times what my name was, and made sure I was an MIT student. I was just there bleeding. No one put any bandages on me," Olynyk said.

"The entire way they handled it was very lackadaisical," Olynyk continued. "I had to point out to them that I was bleeding out of my side as well as my back." However, his black sweatpants might have covered up the wound on his side, he said.

Chappe, who was pacing back and forth while he waited for Olynyk's ambulance to arrive, added that members of the medical staff attempted to stanch and wipe off Olynyk's blood.

"It seemed that [the treatment] should have happened a lot more quickly," Chappe said.

Weinberg stands by treatment

Weinberg, who is a physician, defended Olynyk's treatment. "The facts that I have are that the guy was drunk and abusive when he demanded to get into the medical center," he said. "The nurse who let the two young men in called the Campus Police immediately because she was frightened. [Olynyk] was evaluated to be sure there was nothing happening that was so serious that he had to go in one minute to MGH."

Weinberg said that Olynyk received treatment within one minute of arriving at the MIT Medical Center. "He was in absolutely no danger," Weinberg said.

Weinberg said that the ambulance was a little slow to arrive at the medical center, but that the delay was due to the decision to call a police ambulance. He said that calling a police ambulance is standard emergency procedure when an injury is not immediately life-threatening.

"Just because my blood pressure had been fine at that point, if [the wound] had been in a critical place, during that time something could have happened," Olynyk said.

"There may have been reasons why a bandage wasn't applied. I just don't know why it wasn't," Weinberg said.

Staff found patients intimidating

"From what I heard, [Olynyk] and his friend were very agitated," Weinberg said. The staff members on duty reported that they were "intimidated by Olynyk," and that he was "not an easy person to manage because of alcohol, size, and fright."

Both Olynyk and Chappe denied being intoxicated at the time of treatment. Chappe said he had not consumed any alcohol that night.

"As stab wounds go, it was no big deal, but I shudder to think how it could have been different," Olynyk said. "One of the doctors at MG* said `It's a good thing he's a big guy or it could have been much worse.' "

But Weinberg said this was an "errant statement" which was probably made to imply that Olynyk was lucky.

Chappe suffered lacerations on his left cheek and arm which required 16 stitches. He was released the same day he checked in at the medical center. "They did a good job with me," he said.