Their numbers were few, but their stories were heartwrenching during the public comment period of the Oct. 23 meeting of the Mountain View Hospital Board of Directors.
Eleven of those attending spoke of their confidence in and admiration for Dr. Leland "Bud" Beamer, who was put on administrative leave from his position as an emergency room doctor on Aug. 6, and later dismissed.
After a 24-hour shift in the ER, from Aug. 3 to Aug. 4, Beamer took a vial of ketamine home in case his seriously ill dog needed pain relief. Beamer never used the medication over that weekend, and returned it to the hospital the following Monday, but was placed on administrative leave for taking a controlled substance. He has not been back.
Prior to the public comment period, Janelle Orcutt, board chairman, explained that neither the hospital nor the board grants or rescinds medical licenses, and the hospital is required to report such incidents to the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners.
"The board has not taken any actions to remove his (hospital) privileges," she said, which means that if Beamer retains his medical license, he could use the facility.
Local resident Kip Morris asked the board, "Is there anybody on the board who has not made a mistake that was very grievous? We've all done that, every one of us in this room."
Morris and his wife Theresa asked the board to show compassion and "search your hearts" before deciding Beamer's fate.
Calling Beamer "a pillar in the community, Shirley Boettcher, of Madras, recalled the pain she felt when she lost her son 27 years ago, and understands how Beamer -- who lost his son and four dogs to a drowning in 1998 -- would feel a special connection to the dog he got after his son's death.
"I can see why he made the mistake he made; unless you've lost your child, you can't understand how he can have that kind of connection to a dog," she said.
"He's a good man," Boettcher said. "I beg you, sit back and think."
Longtime Madras resident Eva Montee said Beamer is a compassionate person who is "well thought of in every community" in the county.
Years ago, when her son, Kim, was badly burned, Beamer took care of him.
Later, Beamer mentored her son, who is now a doctor at a clinic in Union. "He played an important role in our lives and the lives of people here in the community. I would hate to see him leave now."
Sally Miller, of Madras, said that she realizes that the board has to report incidents, but that Beamer is so beloved by the community that she hopes the board will write a letter of support to the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners.
"I'm just imploring the board, even St. Charles: Write a letter to the board," she said, asking that the hospitals defend Beamer.
Linda Larson, who worked as an emergency medical technician in the county for many years, said that when she had a health emergency, she went to Beamer, "because I know there wouldn't be any other doctor that would work harder to save me."
Larson, who said she had several people contact her and ask her to speak on their behalf, also requested that the board send a letter to the Oregon board.
"Please look at the past record of Dr. Beamer," she said.
Executive assistant Stacee Reed obtained the address for the Oregon Medical Board for those wishing to write letters: Kathleen Haley, Executive Director, Oregon Medical Board, 1500 S.W. First Ave., Suite 620, Portland, OR 97201-5847.
Louise Muir, of Madras, credited Beamer with running tests and finding a medical condition that other doctors had missed. "I feel like, him being vigilant enough to do those, saved maybe my life," she said.
Frank Hoffman, of Madras, a retired medical doctor, said he had visited Beamer the previous weekend and saw that he was in the process of selling off his cattle and his home. "It's really pretty sad," he said.
"For St. Charles to show the least amount of support, instead of the greatest amount, is certainly a disservice," Hoffman said.
The treatment of Beamer has been "rather heavy-handed," according to Les Smallwood, who has great admiration for his doctor.
"I've been in the emergency room and he's the one doctor I can rely on to do the right thing at the right time," he said. "He's done the right thing and kept me alive."
Camille Harris, of Madras, spoke of Beamer's dedication to the community and its members, recalling that he has always attended high school games and made himself available in case a player is injured.
On a personal note, Harris said that when she tried to jump over a fence and cut her leg, Beamer, who was flying out to attend the Olympics, stayed and stitched her up, and then flew out on a red-eye flight.
Tom Norton, who grew up in Madras, went away to school and returned, said that Beamer had "sewed me up, or my brother up" numerous times.
Norton, who serves on the 509-J School District Board of Directors, said that he realizes that there is a line you shouldn't cross, but hopes the board will still support Beamer.
"Only you know what you can do," he said, adding that whatever is possible, "I hope you do it all."
Beamer's status updated
On Monday, Jeanie Gentry, CEO for Mountain View, said that she had dismissed Beamer several weeks ago. "He is not employed by us," she said.
"He was on administrative leave until I completed the investigation," she said. "Then I made a final decision about him not coming back."
Gentry pointed out that the decision was made by her, not the board. "The board only employs me, and I make the decisions about everybody else," she said.