Tuesday, October 22, 2019

"Legionnaires (Part 2)"

Description: Westphall orders the closure of a ward due to a Legionnaires outbreak, leaving the hospital vulnerable to a loss of funding. Beale discovers that a psychiatric patient was impregnated during her hospital stay. Fiscus gets mugged in the ER. Cavanero dates the fisherman who helped her deliver the baby by phone. Samuels pretends to be a buyer interested in Mark's classic car.

"Legionnaires (Part 2)" is the 7th episode of season 1 of St. Elsewhere.
Originally aired December 14, 1982.
Teleplay by Charles Rosin
Story by Joshua Brand & John Falsey and Charles Rosin
Directed by Mark Tinker


Recap:

Dr. Donald Westphall (Ed Flanders) gives a briefing to the hospital board about the evacuation of ward five due to a possible outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease. The ward will remain closed until they receive confirmation from Dr. Borovay from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. Hospital Administrator B.J. Cummings (Christopher Guest), who opposed closing the ward before they had made a conclusive diagnosis, wants to open the floor to questions. 44 patients have been moved to ward four, which was already at capacity. Cummings wants to know how the staff can possibly handle the workload.

Ehrlich can't find one of his patients in the chaos that resulted
from closing ward five.
Cut to the ward. The hallways are buzzing with activity, and there's a chaotic pile of charts stacked at the nurses' station. Dr. Victor Ehrlich (Ed Begley, Jr.) can't find the chart for one of his patients, a woman named Carol Alaimo. Orderly Rooney (Lance Guest) tells Nurse Lucy Papandrao (Jennifer Savidge) about the illness he thinks he might have. Dr. Mark Craig (William Daniels) gives a sales pitch for his classic car to Dr. Hugh Beale (G.W. Bailey). Expectant father Dr. Jack Morrison (David Morse) asks Dr. Peter White (Terence Knox) about Lamaze. Supply Manager Ramon Lopez (Rafael Campos) tells Nurse Helen Rosenthal (Christina Pickles) about what's gone missing since they moved patients out of ward five: 2,100 tongue depressors, 5,400 cotton swabs, and 3,000 plastic strips. A patient named Mrs. Sabin (Edith Fellows) insists to Nurse Shirley Daniels (Ellen Bry) that she be released. Dr. Philip Chandler (Denzel Washington) gives a medication order to Nurse Skilling (Vivian Bonnell), who responds with an icy glare (see "Samuels and the Kid"). Rosenthal tells Morrison that their situation reminds her of her third marriage.

Rosenthal and Daniels notice that there's another call from room 412, where Shirley had just been ten minutes ago. The patient, Martha Mulvahey, has been a "pest", wanting her pillow propped up. Helen is sympathetic, given that Martha has a serious case of arthritis. Victor still can't find Carol Alaimo.

Helen takes the call from Martha Mulvahey (Ann Bronston). She wants help adjusting her bed, even though Helen points out that it takes the same amount of effort as pushing the call button. Martha apologizes, knowing that the staff is stretched beyond their limits at the moment.

Back in the board meeting, Cummings accuses Westphall of not taking responsibility for his actions. Donald insists that the measures he took were necessarily to save patients' lives, and he'd take the same measures again if he had to.

Craig provides a lesson in proper hand-washing methodology.
In the surgical department, Dr. Craig and Dr. Wendy Armstrong (Kim Miyori) are scrubbing for surgery. Craig carries on about his car, and criticizes Wendy's hand-washing technique. Wendy complains to Dr. Ben Samuels (David Birney) about Craig's obsession with his car: "I didn't spend four long years in med school to become a used car salesman."

Psychiatrist Dr. Hugh Beale is seeing his patient, Jane Sondell (Laraine Newman). Jane, a.k.a. Tweety, used to think she was a bird, and she had left the hospital two months earlier, seemingly in good shape. She had a panic attack while riding on public transit, so she came back to the hospital.

After the meeting, Westphall and Cummings share an elevator. Westphall comments that Cummings went "straight for the jugular." Donald says he doesn't know what's bugging Cummings, given that they've worked together before. Cummings replies that the only doctor he's worked with is Auschlander, who never would have let this situation happen.

Back in the chaos of ward four, Ehrlich finally loses his temper and yells to get everyone's attention. They stop and listen, and once more, he asks if anyone has seen Carol Alaimo. No one has, and the action resumes.

In Westphall's office, Ehrlich expresses his frustration. "I mean, when I was at Berkeley Memorial, I dealt with it all. You're talking bikers, mainliners, acid freaks, hardcore burnouts, I mean, heavy, heavy East Bay grease. But this place, this place is bonkers, Dr. Westphall. I mean, clinically, you know, beyond extradition. Hey, how am I supposed to know that, uh, what's her name, Carol Alaimo was transferred to Beth Zion. I mean, I'm not the attending... You know, it's like, uh... It's like we're always on the wrong end of an outside set at Santa Cruz, you know, and I'm out there scratching the water, trying to get out to get through to the wave, and all of a sudden, I see, uh, fifteen other surfers on their boards. Only none of them know how to surf, you understand? And they start wiping out, they're crashing, boards, bodies, cords, falling over each other, and, uh, and ultimately I feel like it's my fault, I don't know. But I'm not a flake, Dr. Westphall."

"Flakes don't graduate first in their class, doctor. Not even in California." Victor is concerned about Westphall's situation. Westphall assures that he's okay, despite rumors that Westphall's about to be fired.

In the cafeteria, Shirley comments that she heard that Westphall was suspended right after the board meeting. Dr. Wayne Fiscus (Howie Mandel) is dining with Dr. Annie Cavanero, and he suspects that Annie's upbeat demeanor is indicative of a new romantic interest. Wayne confesses that he's single again. Wayne's suspicion is correct. She's seeing a fisherman named Patrick McFarlane--the man who helped her deliver Mrs. Rodriguez's baby over the phone.

Jane tells Beale about how she ended up pregnant.
Also in the cafeteria, Jack suggests Peter take his wife to the Bay Tower Room for her birthday, but Peter can't afford that. He's more interested in getting a good night's sleep. Beale approaches and asks Jack why he changed Jane's medication. Jack tells Beale that it's standard procedure to take a pregnant woman off thorazine.

Back in Beale's office, Jane tells him how she met a man named Bob while listening to a chamber music ensemble in the park near her workplace. She says he's gone, and he doesn't live in Boston.

Wayne spots a man in the hallway holding two containers of Chinese food. It's Patrick (Robert Davi), and he's waiting for Dr. Cavanero. Wayne kids him, "What's it like being as big as all outdoors?" before Annie intervenes and leaves with her date.

At the nurses' station, Rosenthal and Daniels are again occupied with a Martha Mulvahey call when Dr. Vijay Kochar (Kavi Raz) approaches with the news: they just heard from the CDC, and it is indeed Legionnaires' Disease.

Later, in the doctor's lounge, the staff has gathered to watch a television news broadcast where a reporter is asking Dr. Westphall about the Legionnaires' situation. Phil asks Peter what he's still doing there, which reminds White that he needs to get home to his wife. Wayne is not thrilled to see Cathy enter the room. Samuels asks Wendy how Craig's car sale is going. Phil calls the news report an "anticlimax". Jack comments that if they'd caught it sooner, the patients wouldn't have died, and Wendy adds that Phil wouldn't have had his issue with Nurse Skilling. Not what Phil wants to hear.

Martha Mulvahey has called for a nurse for the fifth time that night, this time to turn on the faucet. Shirley tells Martha to run it for twenty minutes, until Shirley's shift is over.

Westphall stops by Beale's office to see if Hugh needs a ride, but Beale is riding home with Samuels. Beale tells Westphall that Jane is back in the hospital, and pregnant. "She spent one very passionate afternoon in the arms of a total stranger, and now she's three months pregnant. The problem is she's only been out of here for two months. Somebody stole the cookies from the cookie jar."

Hugh invites Donald to join him and Samuels for a beer, but Donald wants to prepare the house for his son's birthday. Beale offers him a compliment: "Donald, don't let this stuff get you down. As coach Bum Phillips once said of Earl Campbell, 'You may not be the only one in your class, but it sure wouldn't take long to call roll.'"

Wayne incurs the wrath of a pair of Irish gang members.
Wayne has drawn the night shift in the E.R. He treats Willie Andrews (David Packer), an Irish gang member with a knife wound to his hand. Andrews and his associate do not appreciate Dr. Fiscus's sense of humor.

In the on-call room, Jack is sleeping when Peter wakes him up. It's two in the morning. Peter has generously offered to take over Jack's shift, as he "happened to be in the neighborhood." Jack correctly guesses that Peter and Myra had a fight.

Wayne learns a valuable lesson: don't make fun of gang members. After recommending that Willie Andrews take a bath, his associate breaks a bottle over Wayne's head. After Wayne collapses to the floor, they take his wallet and run away. The next morning in the cafeteria, Wayne recounts the incident to Victor, Vijay, and Wendy. Victor recalls an incident in Berkeley where he ran afoul of some bikers, and tells Vijay he's lucky because his patients are out cold.

At the nurses' station, Mark is on the phone, trying to get a hold of someone named Dr. Pat Barnum. Helen has never heard of him, and suggests he try another hospital. Shirley tells Helen that she's not dealing with the latest Martha Mulvahey page, so Helen takes it herself. Martha is very sorry for the inconvenience, but she wants someone to wash her hair, even though they washed it yesterday. Helen lays down the law: they don't have enough staff for someone to spend forty minutes washing her hair. Martha apologizes, and her sympathy play works: Helen says someone will be coming within the hour.

Ramon is again discussing the $6,000 in missing supplies with Westphall. He thinks it's an inside job, but Westphall disagrees, as there's no money in it. Why would they steal tongue depressors when they could be stealing drugs? Ramon says Cummings won't pay for the missing materials, so Donald says he'll speak with him.

At the nurses' station... Lucy gives Dr. Craig a message that says that a Dr. Barnum wants to talk about buying Mark's car. Craig snaps when Lucy tells him that Barnum didn't leave his phone number. Morrison tells Rooney that he's being a hypochondriac. Helen tells Luther that Dr. Beale wants to see him. Mark places another phone call in search of Dr. Barnum. Skilling presents Rosenthal with a petition from the patients in 435 about the peeling paint in the bathroom.

Westphall and Cummings consider the possibility of
shutting down St. Eligius.
Dr. Borovay (Carl Byrd) discusses the plan for locating the source of the Legionnaires in ward five. If they can't find the point of origin in that ward, then potentially the entire hospital's water system could be compromised, and St. Eligius would be shut down. Borovay commends Westphall and Cummings for acting quickly, validating Donald's controversial decision.

Luther arrives at Dr. Beale's office. Hugh wants Luther's help in locating the father of Jane's baby. He explains his reasoning, citing St. Eligius's information flow:

"When you need help with a personal problem, you go to Dr. Westphall. When you need to get something done, you go to Nurse Rosenthal. But when you need to get right down to the dirt, you go to the eyes and the ears of this hospital."

"Doc, what you're asking me to do is to snoop and sneak and pry in other people's business."

"Fifty dollars."

"I'll ask around."

Back at the nurses' station... Helen takes a call from the computer service technician. Phil asks Skilling why one of his patients hasn't had his medication yet, to which Skilling responds with an epic eye-roll. Ehrlich can't find another patient's chart. Rosenthal gets angry with the computer guy, and with Luther, who took his time coming back from Beale's office. Helen tells Luther to clean up after the man with the peptic ulcer and to get a vase for another patient. And then room 412 rings again.

This time, Mulvahey has a friend coming to visit and she wants help putting on makeup. This time, Helen has had enough. "First it was the pillow, then the bed, then your hair needed washing. No more. Do you understand? No more. What do you think we do around here? This isn't a country club. Now look, Martha. I'm very sorry that you've got arthritis and I mean that. I'm very sorry that this happened to you, and you're sick, and I know that's hard for you. But we cannot cater to your every need. You are not the only patient in this hospital. If you keep calling like this, no one will respond when it's really important. Do you understand? When it is really important!"

Cummings isn't happy about St. Eligius's financial prospects.
Westphall asks Cummings to sign the voucher for Ramon Lopez and the missing supplies. Cummings says no. Donald asks about the contingency money. It was spent on the ward closure. Westphall is getting annoyed, and feels Cummings is punishing him for their disagreement, even though Donald was proven right. Cummings is exasperated. "You've done a hell of a job, Donald. I just hope that other people remember what a good job you've done six or seven months down the line when we don't have the money for the new CAT scan, and we lose our backing from the Zellman Foundation, all because of the terrific job you've done." Cummings points out that the notoriety from the closure, as well as the media attention Donald garnered, will be a detriment to St. Eligius's fundraising efforts. "CDC reports don't make the evening news."

Back in the ward... Mark asks Hugh if he knows a Dr. Barnum. He explains the pressing need: Ellen wants a new car for her birthday, so he has to ditch his classic to make room. Annie doesn't know any Dr. Barnum, either. Skilling tries to get a patient to take his medication. Phil tries to help, so Skilling hands him the pill and walks away. A fight breaks out between two patients. Cathy catches up to Wayne. She heard about his mugging, and is concerned. He's not exactly thrilled to see her.

Helen checks in on Martha Mulvahey. She's lying on her side, hiding her face, clearly upset. Her ordeal has been getting worse over the past six years, and she can't even turn the pages of a book anymore. She had tried to put her makeup on by herself, unsuccessfully, and she doesn't want her friend to see her in this state. Helen, now sympathetic, offers to help.

Beale is still resisting Mark's sales pitch about the car, and Samuels asks why he doesn't want to buy it. Beale, in addition to some wisdom about not buying from someone who might operate on you, says that there's another buyer named Barnum who's interested. Ben confesses: he's Barnum.

Rockin' Ralph serenades his Tweety bird.
Luther approaches Beale: he's found the father. They quietly enter what appears to be a storage room. They can hear a man's voice, singing "Blackbird". It's Rockin' Ralph (Richard Marcus), perched atop the nest he's been building out of stolen medical supplies, serenading his love, Tweety a.k.a. Jane. That's why Jane came back.

Westphall enters Cummings's office. Cummings ended up approving the money for the stolen supplies, for which Donald is grateful. Westphall admits that he forgets that the two of them are ultimately working towards the same goal--keeping St. Eligius running--but they approach it from different angles. For doctors, medicine is a calling, but for Cummings, it's a business. Cummings is working on his resume. Knowing the board and the situation, it's only a matter of time before he'll be replaced.

After checking in on a patient, Phil finally apologizes to Skilling. "I've been twenty years with this hospital young man," Skilling replies. "Twenty years. That's practically as long as you've been on this planet. My way of doing things may not be to your liking, but it doesn't give you the right to attack my ability. Twenty years."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Here's some advice from an old lady who's seen many young men come and go. Pick your friends with great care. There's so many out there who would love to see you fail."

Meanwhile, at a local jewellery store that also sells guns and ammo, Wayne wants to buy a gun.

"What kind?" asks the shopkeeper.

"The kind that shoots."

Helen visits Donald in his office, advising that a patient is getting too fond of her medication. Donald is wrapping a present for his son's tenth birthday. Westphall's father was a school teacher, and was good at working with people. Donald doesn't feel like that every day. He resented the time his father spent with other people. Now he sees himself letting time with his children slip away from him.

Before going home, Helen pays one last visit to Martha Mulvahey's room. Her friend is visiting, and Martha looks happy.

At home, Donald's house is dark, still decorated for his son Tommy's party. He's greeted by his daughter, Lizzie (Dana Short). The party was okay, and Tommy's asleep. Lizzie's tired, too. He turns off the light, and they embrace.


Trivia for "Legionnaires (Part 2)":
  • There will only be one other two-part episode in the six seasons of St. Elsewhere: season four's Emmy-winning "Time Heals".
  • Thomas Babson, who played a reporter in "Legionnaires (Part 2)", "Bypass", and "Dr. Wyler, I Presume", also played one of the barfiles on Cheers. Despite the crossovers between Cheers and St. Elsewhere (I've counted three), it's a different character. The reporter signs off as "Larry Fishkin", while on Cheers, Babson was credited as "Tom".
  • I wonder if the show's writers had seen this Boston Magazine piece about the Bay Tower Room, which they named Best Romantic Restaurant for 1982. Jack said, "It's a lovely view. Food's not bad, either." Boston Magazine said that the view is the best in town, but the food is "inconsistent." It is no longer in operation. Here's a story about it, from 2006.
  • Hugh Beale on the phone: "Mrs. Stephens, I don't think your daughter-in-law is a witch. You saw it levitate? Well, perhaps it was an optical illusion." This reference to Bewitched is the writers' first clear shout-out to another TV show. Allusions like these will become a staple for St. Elsewhere's writing staff and fans as the series progresses.
  • Looks like it used to be a lot easier to go to a store and buy a gun. (I'll admit, I don't know how easy it is to buy a gun in Boston nowadays.)
  • Again, it's yet to be established that Tommy is autistic. Given what Tommy is like later, maybe that's why the party was only "okay." I'd say at this point, it looks like Tommy is just a regular kid. It's hard to guess what the writers' intentions were. 
  • This is the first appearance of Dana Short as Elizabeth Westphall.

Here's the episode, on DailyMotion:




Cast

Starring
Ed Flanders as Dr. Donald Westphall
and
David Birney as Dr. Ben Samuels

Also Starring (in alphabetical order)
G.W. Bailey as Dr. Hugh Beale
Ed Begley, Jr. as Dr. Victor Ehrlich
Terence Knox as Dr. Peter White
Howie Mandel as Dr. Wayne Fiscus
David Morse as Dr. Jack Morrison
Christina Pickles as Nurse Helen Rosenthal
Kavi Raz as Dr. Vijay Kochar
Cynthia Sikes as Dr. Annie Cavanero
Denzel Washington as Dr. Philip Chandler

and Starring
William Daniels as Dr. Mark Craig

Guest Starring
Barbara Whinnery as Dr. Cathy Martin
Kim Miyori as Dr. Wendy Armstrong
Ellen Bry as Nurse Shirley Daniels
Christopher Guest as B.J. Cummings
Laraine Newman as Jane Sondell
Robert Davi as Patrick McFarlane
Ann Bronston as Martha Mulvahey

Co-Starring
Lance Guest as Orderly Rooney
Richard Marcus as Ralph Selover
Rafael Campos as Ramon Lopez
Eric G. Laneuville as Luther
Jennifer Savidge as Nurse Lucy
Carl Byrd as Dr. Borovay
Vivian Bonnell as Nurse Skilling

With
Edith Fellows as Mrs. Sabin
Dana Short as Elizabeth Westphall
Kathryn M. Hayden as Nurse
David Packer as Willie Andrews
Thomas Babson as Reporter
Patti Rooney as Nurse
Howard Vann as Gun Shop Proprietor


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