Monday, October 21, 2019

"Legionnaires (Part 1)"

Description: After a series of deaths, Westphall and administrator Cummings clash over the decision to close a ward that could be home to an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease. White finds himself in dire financial straits when he loses his beeper. Martin breaks up with Fiscus when he starts to get too serious. Cavanero clashes with a hostile nurse.

"Legionnaires (Part 1)" is the 6th episode of season 1 of St. Elsewhere.
Originally aired December 7, 1982.
Teleplay by Joel Surnow
Story by Joshua Brand & John Falsey and Joel Surnow
Directed by Thomas Carter


Dr. Peter White discovers that his beeper is missing.
The episode begins with a continuous shot that pans through multiple conversations: from Dr. Hugh Beale (G.W. Bailey) to Dr. Mark Craig (William Daniels) and Dr. Victor Ehrlich (Ed Begley, Jr.) to Dr. Donald Westphall (Ed Flanders) and Dr. Peter White (Terence Knox) to Dr. Wendy Armstrong (Kim Miyori), whose beeper goes off, to Dr. Cathy Martin (Barbara Whinnery) and Dr. Ben Samuels (David Birney). Wendy's beeper leads to Peter discovering that his own beeper is missing.

Victor invites Wayne to join him for night fishing at Chestnut Hill Reservoir, but Wayne is not interested in illegal fishing, and has plans with his girlfriend of the past month, pathologist Cathy Martin.

At the nurses' station, Dr. Annie Cavanero (Cynthia Sikes) complains to Nurse Losef (Rita Taggart) that the patient Annie was awakened to see could have waited until rounds. Her stomach pains turned out to be a missed bowel movement, which is not an emergency. When Annie explains this, Losef turns away and ignores her.

Peter is talking to his wife on the pay phone, asking her to look for his missing beeper, which will cost $260 to replace. Victor strikes up a conversation with him. White missed the morning's tumor board because his daughter fell off a swing at a playground, and he's not interested in Samuels' surgery later. He checks the on-call room for his beeper (where Orderly Gunderson is taking a nap), but to no avail.

Nurse Helen Rosenthal (Christina Pickles) catches up to Westphall and asks him to look in on a patient, Francine Delgado. She was in for a mitral valve replacement seven days earlier, but took a turn for the worse in the past day. After looking in on her and recommending a course of treatment, he agrees with Helen's suggestion that they isolate her.

In another room, Dr. White is treating an elderly patient, Mr. Andover (John Steadman), who's been producing green sputum. The man was a two-pack-a-day smoker for forty years, but Nurse Losef suggests it might be another case of pneumonia. White recommends a course of medication and a consult from respiratory therapy.

Ramon, the Supply Manager (Rafael Campos), complains to Westphall that fifteen boxes of hemostats have disappeared in the past two months. He suggests that people have been stealing them for use as roach clips. Donald proceeds to the records room, where he requests the files on Brenda Perez and Lila Rothlein, the patients of Dr. Chandler's who died the previous week.

Dr. Philip Chandler (Denzel Washington) and Wendy are in the x-ray room, looking at a classic case of bronchogenic cancer, when Westphall enters. He asks if autopsies were performed on Perez and Rothlein. Together with Delgado, the symptoms sound like Legionnaires' Disease. He tells them to keep it quiet while the situation is still speculative. Donald proceeds to the morgue, where he asks Cathy to prioritize the potential Legionnaires' case.

Administrator Cummings hesitates to risk funding, while
Westphall insists on preventative measures.
Westphall meets with Dr. Daniel Auschlander (Norman Lloyd), Chief of Services, and Hospital Administrator B.J. Cummings (Christopher Guest) about the recent deaths on ward five. Cummings wants to wait until conclusive test results come in before taking action, but Donald wants to close the ward immediately. Cummings is worried about the upcoming state census, as the amount of subsidy the hospital receives is based on the number of beds used. Westphall is not moved by the argument, but Cummings cites a number of other possibilities that could explain the situation. Auschlander suggests waiting for the test results.

In the cafeteria, Dr. Wayne Fiscus (Howie Mandel) is dining with Victor and Nurse Shirley Daniels (Ellen Bry) when he spots Cathy. He insists she join them, but she's hesitant about eating lunch "with everyone." She sits down and Wayne carries on with his story. At another table, Dr. Beale advises Dr. Vijay Kochar (Kavi Raz) that he would benefit from some training to improve his grasp of the English language.

At yet another table, Dr. Jack Morrison (David Morse) is sitting with White and two other staffers, telling a story that becomes part of local medical lore:

"He's going on and on about how a, uh, certain patient died of CHF from mitral stenosis. Talks for about two hours. When it's time for pathology to give its findings, a third-year path resident stands up, looks Frazier right in the face, and says the mitral valve was perfectly normal. Frazier gets totally bent out of shape. 'I know what is mitral stenosis. I heard the murmur, I should know.' The resident holds up his hand. He's got the valve in a jar. He says to Frazier, 'I have the valve. You got the murmur?' It was perfect."

They laugh, but then Westphall approaches the table to inform White that Mr. Andover is allergic to penicillin. The methicllin White prescribed would have put the patient into anaphylactic shock, and the dangerous mistake will be going on his evaluation.

At another table, Cavanero is telling Armstrong and Samuels about the difficulties she's having with Nurse Losef. She doesn't know what Losef's issue is with her. Ben suggests it's case of resentment between a female nurse and a female doctor. He advises Annie to "fight fire with fire" and use her authority to make Losef do unpleasant work. It's not Annie's style, she says, but she thinks about it.

In a ward room, Dr. Morrison explains to hernia patient Leo Roshcom that they need to lift him out of the bed to weigh him. Leo survived the Depression, World War II, a boxing career, and three marriages, but the hernia has him down for the count. He's not happy about the embarrassment of having to use a catheter.

Jackie wants Wayne and the unusual Dr. Cathy Martin, who is
dressed in white for a funeral, to come over for dinner.
In the on-call room, a page comes over the intercom for a sleeping Dr. Annie Cavanero. Dr. Jacqueline Wade (Sagan Lewis) interrupts Annie's slumber to advise her of the page. Annie was dreaming about Tom Selleck, but she gets up to resume her duties.

Cathy enters the on-call room, carrying a white dress. Jackie is impressed, and comments that she's never seen Cathy in white before. Dr. Martin, who always dresses in black, is on her way to a funeral, and she explains that in Asia, white, the absence of color, is symbolic of the absence of life, while black, the combination of all colors, is a symbol of life. The funeral is for an indigent man who is being buried anonymously in the city cemetery. Jackie, fascinated by the unusual pathologist, invites Cathy to dinner with her and her husband. She asks Cathy to bring Wayne, because her husband Robert loves Fiscus, to which Cathy replies unenthusiastically, "Everybody does." Jackie wishes her "low key," "analytical," "workaholic," and sometimes "boring" husband had Wayne's sense of humor.

Annie examines her patient's abdomen. The patient, Mr. Prensky (David Wiley), who just had an upset stomach, told the nurse it "was no kind of big deal." Annie is not amused. She heads to the nurses' station to confront Losef. Annie reiterates that complaints that aren't emergencies can wait until rounds. Losef replies, "I'm not paid to make those judgments, Dr. Cavanero." When Annie explains that she's been up for 36 hours and needed to sleep, Losef snips, "I'm sorry, but that's not my problem." Annie, now angry, takes a page out of Ben's book and instructs Losef to give three enemas and daily weights for all her patients.

In an isolation room, Drs. Ehrlich and Chanlder and Nurse Daniels have been attempting to revive Francine Delgado for thirty-five minutes. They give up CPR efforts.

Westphall chews out technician Joe Rocklin for joking
about a patient's death.
Later, Phil briefs Westphall on the patient's death, and a distressed Donald orders an autopsy. When Luther says that pathology is closed, Westphall tells him to open it. The technician jokes that "people are dying to get in." Westphall asks for the technician's name, and chews him out for his tasteless comment.

In the hallway, Vijay is posting a notice on the bulletin board when Dr. Craig yells at him for covering up his flyer. Craig chastises Kochar's request for English lessons: "Yeah, well you should have thought of that before you came over here, you know, I wouldn't go to India to live if I couldn't talk to the natives. Shows a lack of respect, Kochar."  Mark suggests Vijay find a tutor at the foreign languages department at Boston University--Mark has a car to sell.

In the purchasing office, Ramon advises Peter that a new beeper will cost $300, not $260 like Peter thought. Peter wants to be billed for it, but Ramon laughs, and insists on immediate payment. Peter pleads for Ramon to give him "a break, this one time," and Ramon reluctantly caves.

Jack pays another visit to Leo Roshcom to see how he's faring. Jack gives him forty-five minutes to go to the bathroom before the catheter goes back in.

At home with Dr. Peter White... Peter is studying at the dinner table, while his daughter Megan (Candace Cameron) is playing with her spaghetti and singing a child-like version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". He asks Megan to be quiet so he can concentrate. His wife Myra (Karen Landry) tells Megan to stop playing with her food as she sits down to feed baby Timothy, who has begun to cry. Megan wants ketchup for her spaghetti. Myra informs Peter that the diaper service needs to be paid. Megan asks why Daddy is always reading. Peter doesn't see why Myra can't wash the diapers herself. Timothy's food spills on the floor. Peter complains about hiring a maid to clean the house and hiring a babysitter while Myra goes to grad school. Megan still wants ketchup. Myra tells Megan to be quiet and storms into the kitchen. Peter hands Megan the ketchup. Myra is annoyed that Peter can spend $300 on a beeper but they can't spend $20 on the diaper service. She's had enough, and tells him that he's not a husband or a father anymore, just a damned resident. Peter says he'll get the money.

Annie chews out Nurse Losef for insubordination, but
Losef has a few words of her own for the good doctor.
Annie enters a ward room, where Nurse Losef is taking the blood pressure of a patient, Mrs. Sylvester. The patient tells Cavanero that she's still having pains in her abdomen, and Annie asks her to roll over. Mrs. Sylvester won't budge, so Cavanero asks Losef for a hand. Losef says she'll be finished in a minute. Cavanero asks Losef to step out into the hallway with her. Annie finally lets Losef have it. She's tired of Losef undercutting her authority, and insists on being obeyed. Losef waits for her moment. "May I speak? I don't like you. You're a good doctor, but you're an inadequate woman. I know it. Everybody knows it. You've got a cold heart." Annie walks away in hurt silence while other staffers stare.

Jack checks in on Leo Roshcom, who's in the bathroom, rinsing his hands in the sink. Leo pleads for a few more minutes, loathing the prospect of using the catheter again. Jack tells Leo his time's up, leaves the bathroom, and asks the nurse for a #16 Foley catheter. They hear a stream coming from the bathroom, and Leo triumphantly announces his successful evacuation.

At Wayne's apartment, Cathy is eating Chinese food and tells Wayne she saw Ninotchka yesterday at the Orson Welles Cinema on a double bill with Idiot's Delight. She was disappointed there wasn't more action, but Garbo was funny. Wayne has a surprise for Cathy--her choice of three potential weekend getaways for the two of them, and he's arranged for someone to cover pathology for her. But something's up with Cathy. She's not happy. She says she needs to leave, and Wayne is confused.

Cathy breaks Wayne's heart.
"Wait a second, talk to me."

"Don't you understand? I've got to get out here, now."

"Well, tell me why."

"If you really knew me, then you'd know."

"If I really knew you, I'd know what? What does that mean? I don't know what that means... Please, you, you can't just, wait a second, you know, you can't just walk out the door. I don't understand. Tell me what's going on."

"All you wanted out of this was a good time, remember? That's what you said you wanted, and that's what I want. But now, Wayne, its..."

"Say it."

"I don't want to have a relationship."

"What do you mean? We have a relationship... All, all right, you don't want a relationship, we won't have a relationship. You wanna call it something else? It's just a word. It'll be a brouhaha, a bagatelle, a bric-a-brac..."

"Will you listen to me? You never listen to what I'm saying."

"I do too."

"I don't want a relationship."

"You mean you don't want a relationship, or you don't want a relationship with me?"

"...With you. I like you, Wayne... I don't love you. I... You've been so nice to me, I don't want to hurt you. But every time I try to get serious, you always turn it into a joke. I'm sorry."

She leaves. It's over.

At 8:22 AM, Wayne is back in the hospital, in the doctor's lounge. Annie asks him what he's doing there, as he had the night off. Wayne glumly explains how the excitement of a medical challenge is preferable to "real life." Annie suspects something's off, but Wayne insists on joking through his pain, chiding her lack of "outside interests". She doesn't respond to what nowadays would be considered grounds for a sexual harassment complaint.

Peter and Wendy are also in the lounge. Peter hangs up the phone and asks Wendy for a favour: he needs someone to cover for him while he takes an hour and a half to pick up his car. She reluctantly agrees, and doesn't seem pleased when he says he owes her one.

Also in the lounge are Dr. Craig and Dr. Beale, playing chess. Mark asks Hugh if he's still painting.

"Still lifes," Hugh responds, trying hard to figure out his next move.

"You try to make them look real? Or are you a fan of that abstract malarkey?" asks Mark. "I got an artist to paint a picture of my wife, my son, and myself. You should have... Boy, I had real problems with him. I mean, he caught my wife all right, but what he did to my son... You'd have thought he had a cleft palate. It was a just a little dimple, was all. Never hurt Kirk Douglas."

Hugh draws Mark's ire for considering smoking a cigar.
Hugh makes his move, looking pleased, and pulls a wrapped cigar from his coat. Mark immediately counters. Hugh unwraps the cigar and is about to light it when he realizes Mark is glaring at him.

"Damn smoke gets into everything. A man wants to kill himself you'd think he'd have the decency to not stink up everything. For crying out loud, we're in a hospital. I mean, you... We've got enough germs crawling around as it is. Sure, they wash the floors, but, you know, they don't get into the corners. And did you ever check under the beds? Tumbling tumbleweed under there." Hugh puts away the cigar. Mark continues. "Hair in the sink, window smudges, crud in the soap dishes." Hugh takes a knight with his pawn, and Mark immediately counters with his queen. "Check and mate."

At the nurses' station, Helen is on the phone with her husband, Ira, telling him they've got a problem there and she won't be home for a while. Annie asks if they have any aspirin, and Helen directs her to the back. Nurse Losef is in her street clothes, and looks sad. She sees Annie and hangs her head. She's been crying. Annie silently offers Losef a handkerchief, and she accepts.

"I just feel so lousy. I don't even know why. I'm thirty-seven years old. I come to work. I go home to an empty apartment, and I go to sleep. Twelve years. And I hate it. I used to fantasize. I'd meet someone, and my life would be different. Now I can't even imagine living with someone again. You seem to have everything going for you. That makes me hurt even more."

Annie sits down and commiserates. She may have her career, but her love life is a nowhere road. She wants to succeed at both, but it's not happening. "Sometimes I feel as though I've been sold a bill of goods."

In the cafeteria, Peter recognizes a lawyer he knows (James Keane) who has started a new law firm. Peter suggests working out an arrangement where he refers patients in need of legal representation, in exchange for a finder's fee. The lawyer has similar arrangements with doctors from Boston General, but he advises that under Peter's municipal contract (St. Eligius is owned by the city), such a setup wouldn't be legal. He tells Peter to think it over, and leaves.

Westphall closes down the ward.
Rosenthal describes a patient's symptoms to Westphall as they head towards the ward. It's the same set of symptoms as the other potential Legionnaires' Disease cases, but this time, it's a nineteen-year-old with no history of respiratory illness. After recommending treatment, he leads Helen into the hallway, and orders the ward to be closed.

At a large office tower, Peter is waiting in an office. A man (Matthew Faison) enters, sits down at his desk, and asks Peter a few questions to confirm his job and family status. He gives Peter a form to give to the woman out front, who will explain the procedures and write him a check. He encourages Peter to recommend this to his colleagues--they're always happy to have a doctor donate sperm. Looks like Peter found a way to pay for his beeper and the diaper service.

Westphall gives the rundown to the staff about the procedures for closing down the ward. To be continued in "Legionnaires (Part 2)"...

Trivia for "Legionnaires (Part 1)":
  • My research suggests that it is no longer illegal to go fishing at Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
  • This episode picks up the story from the previous episode, "Samuels and the Kid", in which three patients died suddenly. The first two were described as having had pneumonia.
  • B.J. Cummings held the position of Hospital Administrator. The position is not mentioned again during the series.
  • The "I have the valve, you got the murmur?" story gets told again (we will hear the punchline) at least three more times during the course of the series.
  • Ramon complains about missing supplies. This is foreshadowing. We will find out what's going on in "Legionnaires (Part 2)".
  • In "Down's Syndrome", Hugh tells Rhinehardt that surgeons like Dr. Craig "only play chess but a few ways. Once they get something stuck in their head, it's there forever." But here, Hugh seems to walk right into Mark's trap.
  • Mark's car-for-sale will be a storyline in the next two episodes.
  • Christopher Guest would soon achieve fame as a member of the fictional band in the "mockumentary" This Is Spinal Tap. He holds a hereditary British peerage and sat in the House of Lords as the 5th Baron Haden-Guest. He married actress Jamie Lee Curtis in 1984.
  • Paul Mace (credited simply as Mace) who played Orderly Gunderson in this episode and the previous one, was killed in a car crash in 1983.
  • Rafael Campos, who played supply manager Ramon, was the sixth husband of singer Dinah Washington, from 1961 to 1962. His film credits include playing a juvenile delinquent in 1955's Blackboard Jungle. He died of stomach cancer in 1985.
  • This was the first professional acting role for Candace Cameron, who played Peter White's daughter, Megan. Cameron would go on to star in Full House. Her brother Kirk Cameron starred on Growing Pains, and she married NHL hockey player Valeri Bure in 1996.
  • Rita Taggart, who played the difficult Nurse Losef, was married to Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler from 1989 until his death in 2015.

Here's Jack telling the "I have the valve, you got the murmur?" story:

Here's the episode, on DailyMotion:


Ed Flanders as Dr. Donald Westphall
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
Norman Lloyd as Dr. Daniel Auschlander
Barbara Whinnery as Dr. Cathy Martin
Kim Miyori as Dr. Wendy Armstrong
Ellen Bry as Nurse Shirley Daniels
Albert Salmi as Leo Roshcom
Christopher Guest as B.J. Cummings
Rita Taggart as Nurse Losef
Karen Landry as Myra White
James Keane as Lawyer

Matthew Faison as Mr. Woodman
Sagan Lewis as Dr. Wade
Mace as Orderly Gunderson
Eric G. Laneuville as Luther
Rafael Campos as Ramon

Jessica Salem as Francine
Guy Killum as Lexie
Harry Stephens as Technician
David Wiley as Mr. Prensky
John Steadman as Mr. Andover
Candace Cameron as Megan White

Watching St. Elsewhere on Hulu or elsewhere? Feel free to comment on this episode below.

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