(San Francisco, CA – March 27, 2013) Officials with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations today honored healthcare professionals from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, the North Coast’s regional Level II trauma center, for caring for two HSI special agents who were shot and injured in an early morning enforcement action last May while serving high-risk warrants on San Francisco Bay area gang members in Petaluma.
Orthopedic surgeons Michael Grafe and Alex Iezza, along with registered nurses Isabel Cavalli and Tiffany Oliver, were key members of a multi-disciplinary team that treated and supported the two agents, who suffered serious injuries after being shot with an assault rifle during the May 3, 2012 incident in Petaluma. The federal agents’ enforcement action was tied to an investigation of a 2010 gang-related triple homicide in South San Francisco.
Today, the four Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital healthcare providers received honors in a ceremony led by Clark Settles, special agent in charge for HSI in northern California.
“The healthcare professionals who attended to our wounded agents are truly the unsung heroes of last year’s shooting,” Special Agent Settles said. “There is no question the extraordinary care our investigators received from the medical team helped prevent the loss of life. We want to express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to all of those involved for their professionalism and tireless efforts.”
The two wounded agents were hospitalized last May on Santa Rosa Memorial’s orthopedic nursing unit, where doctors Grafe and Iezza are among orthopedic surgeons who specialize in treating patients suffering from injuries or recovering from elective procedures. Isabel Cavalli, an RN case manager who advocated for the injured patients and their families, joined them in being recognized today, along with Tiffany Oliver, RN, MSN, MBA, who at the time served as nurse manager supervising the unit. Honorees’ spouses and children also attended today’s ceremony.
Dr. Grafe, a native of Sonoma County who was born at Santa Rosa Memorial, said treating the federal agents was a unique experience in his career: “It’s gratifying to have been able to treat the agents and their injuries. Through a very difficult time, we as doctors and nurses at Memorial Hospital were able to make strong bonds with the HSI special agents.”
Isabel Cavalli has worked at Santa Rosa Memorial for 31 years, and agrees that Wednesday’s tribute by the federal agents was a rare expression of gratitude. “It’s fabulous they’re taking the time to honor us,” she said.
“The whole Homeland Security Investigations crew was very appreciative of what we did.”
As a spouse of a military serviceman, Tiffany Oliver identifies with the on-the-job dangers the agents face and its impact on their families. “I’m thankful the nursing care we gave them made a difference,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to give back to agents who risk their lives every day.”
As two of many orthopedic surgeons who rotate on-call duties to support Santa Rosa Memorial’s trauma service, Doctors Iezza and Grafe treat a broad spectrum of patients in need of emergency treatment.
“We’ve taken care of high-profile patients before, but this is the first time we’ve been recognized for it in this way,” Dr. Iezza said. “It was nice to reconnect with some of the agents we met last spring.”
Alex Iezza, M.D., Special Agent Clark Settles of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, Michael Grafe, M.D., Isabel Cavalli, RN, and Tiffany Oliver, RN. The clinical team is from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.