Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable James Varga, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Karnezis
Plaintiff Judy Washington appeals from the trial court's grant of summary judgment to defendants St. Francis Hospital and Dr. Therese Kloempken in plaintiff's action for the wrongful death of her newborn son Sabree Washington McKinley. Plaintiff alleges that the court erred in finding that defendants were immune from tort liability pursuant to the immunity provisions of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act (the EMS Act or Act) (210 ILCS 50/1 et seq. (West 1996)) and Dr. Kloempken's conduct was not willful and wanton misconduct. We affirm.
On October 4, 1996, plaintiff went into labor while in the bathroom of her second-floor apartment in Evanston. She was 8½ months pregnant. When City of Evanston fire department emergency personnel arrived at plaintiff's home in response to a 911 call, they saw the foot and leg of a baby protruding from plaintiff's vagina. The paramedics phoned St. Francis Hospital for instructions.
Dr. Hector Aguilera was the attending emergency room physician and director of the emergency department at St. Francis Hospital on duty when the call came in at 2:48 p.m. He had authority for emergency patient management in the field. He had previously served as the alternate project medical director for the St. Francis Hospital EMS system and was very familiar with EMS protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs). Standard procedure for paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) encountering a footling breech birth, i.e., where a single foot or leg of the baby is already emerging from the vagina, is to transport the patient immediately to a hospital. Accordingly, Dr. Aguilera told Carola Neville, the certified emergency communications registered nurse (ECRN) answering the telemetry phone, to order the paramedics to transport plaintiff to the hospital. Estimated time to arrive at St. Francis Hospital was approximately four to five minutes.
Thinking that an obstetrical emergency case was being brought in, Dr. Aguilera called the obstetrical (OB) department and requested that an OB resident come to the emergency department to assist with the case. Dr. Kloempken, a second-year OB resident and the OB resident on call that day, responded to the request. She ordered that a labor and delivery room be opened and then went down to the emergency department to meet the arriving ambulance.
At 2:56 p.m., approximately seven minutes after their first call, the paramedics again called for instructions. They had not begun transport to the hospital because the baby started to emerge further and was now protruding with both legs and buttocks from plaintiff's vagina. When Dr. Kloempken arrived in the emergency room, Dr. Aguilera told her to provide instructions to the paramedics over the telemetry phone *fn1 . Dr. Kloempken thought that the paramedics were already in transit to the hospital and directed them to attempt to manually rotate the baby. The paramedics informed Dr. Kloempken that the baby had no pulse and that plaintiff was not having contractions and that they were going to try to get plaintiff out of the second-story bathroom where she was lying on the floor and bring her to the hospital. Dr. Kloempken told them to stay where they were and to continue to rotate the baby and try to deliver it.
Fifteen minutes after the start of the second call, the baby's head had still not delivered and Dr. Aguilera ordered immediate transport of plaintiff and emergent baby to the hospital. At 3:14 p.m., as plaintiff was being placed on a stretcher, the baby's head spontaneously delivered. Baby Sabree arrived at the hospital at 3:22 p.m., cyanotic and without a pulse. He was resuscitated and transferred to Children's Memorial Hospital, where he died after being taken off life support on October 10, 1996.
Plaintiff filed a three-count wrongful death action against the City of Evanston, St. Francis Hospital and Dr. Kloempken. Count I against the City of Evanston was dismissed after the City of Evanston settled with plaintiff. Count II alleged that defendants St. Francis Hospital and Dr. Kloempken, individually and as an agent of St. Francis Hospital given her status as an employee of St. Francis Hospital, engaged in gross negligence and willful and wanton misconduct. Count III alleged that St. Francis Hospital and Dr. Kloempken, individually and as an agent of St. Francis Hospital, were negligent. Plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary judgment asking the court to find, as a matter of law, that defendants were subject to liability for Dr. Kloempken's negligent acts and omissions regarding her instructions to the paramedics. The court denied the motion. The court granted summary judgment to St. Francis Hospital and Dr. Kloempken on counts II and III, finding that defendants were immune from civil liability pursuant to the EMS Act and that Dr. Kloempken's conduct was not willful and wanton. The court denied plaintiff's motion to reconsider its grant of summary judgment on the willful and wanton count. Upon dismissal of the City of Evanston, the court made its orders regarding summary judgment final and appealable. Plaintiff timely appeals and argues that the court erred in granting summary judgment to defendants, denying her motion for partial summary judgment and denying her motion to reconsider.
A drastic means of disposing of litigation, a motion for summary judgment is granted only when the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with any affidavits, construed strictly against the movant and liberally in favor of the opponent of the motion, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Purtill v. Hess, 111 Ill. 2d 229, 240, 489 N.E.2d 867, 871 (1986). We review the trial court's entry of summary judgment de novo. Axen v. Ockerlund Construction Co., 281 Ill. App. 3d 224, 229, 666 N.E.2d 693, 696 (1996).
The trial court granted summary judgment to defendants because it found them immune from civil liability pursuant to the EMS Act. The Illinois EMS Act establishes a scheme for coordinating and integrating all activities within the state concerning pre-hospital and inter-hospital emergency services. 210 ILCS 50/2 (West 1996). The state is divided into geographic regions, each with a designated EMS resource hospital and a plan for coordinating the region's emergency medical services, trauma services, and non-emergency medical services. 210 ILCS 50/3.15, 3.20(b) (West 1996). Authority and responsibility for the regional EMS system are vested in the region's resource hospital through the EMS medical director or his designee. 210 ILCS 50/3.155(a) (West 1996).
Section 3.150(a) of the EMS Act provides for immunity from civil liability for acts or omissions committed by
"[a]ny person, agency or governmental body certified, licensed or authorized pursuant to this Act or rules thereunder, who in good faith provides emergency or non-emergency medical services * * * in the normal course of conducting their duties, or in an emergency, * * * unless such acts or omissions * * ...