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Storms bring heavy rains, higher tides, flooding to Shore

ST. MICHAELS — Heavy rains and thunderstorms swept through the Eastern Shore early Thursday causing some flooding and some vehicles stranded in high waters.

The rain and above average high tides caused some flooding in St. Michaels and other coastal areas.

Areas of the Shore received between 2 and 4 inches of rain early Thursday, according to the National Weather Service and other storm trackers.

The morning storms swept across Queen Anne’s County leaving high, standing water in many areas. With the arrival of heavy rainfall beginning around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, the county’s emergency services issued multiple warnings to area residents. The first burst of storms caused what one resident called ground shaking thunder.

Centreville Wharf, Main Street in Grasonville, Queenstown, and parts of Route 18 in Chester saw heavy rains and flooding.

At least two vehicles were reported stranded by high water, a van in the area of Main Street and Melvin Avenue in Grasonville and a Jeep in the Chester Safeway parking lot.

Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jessica Milligan said the two soldiers, who wished to remain anonymous, came quickly to the aid of one of the stranded drivers whose leg was stuck in the vehicle. Unable to open the vehicle’s door, the sunroof had to be broken and the two soldiers held the driver’s head above water until fire and EMS could arrive.

The Jeep had to be pulled out of the high-standing water by Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department, Milligan said, before the door could be pried open. There were no injuries as a result of this incident.

The storms caused minor flooding at Easton Point.

Flooding at the end of Port Street in Easton swelled past the marina during a high tide. Heavy rainfall also caused a pool of water to collect at Pep Up. The water was a few inches high.

Talbot County was under flash flood and other weather alerts throughout the day.

There was also some minor flooding and water in some streets in Oxford. The storms headed up the East Coast after also bringing some noticeable wind gusts to the Shore.

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Cambridge man charged with assaulting nurse

EASTON — A Cambridge man is facing rape and assault charges after allegedly grabbing a nurse’s vaginal area while she was prepping him for surgery, police said.

Officers from the Easton Police Department arrested Donald L. Hill, 52, on Sept. 22, nearly a week after being called to the UM Shore Regional Surgery Center in Easton to investigate a reported sex offense on Sept. 16.

A nurse at the surgery center, told police that she was inserting an IV into Hill’s left arm to prepare him for a procedure. Before inserting the needle, the nurse reported that Hill was laying on his back on the bed and his arm was laying across her thigh. The nurse told police that when she inserted the needle, it went through his vein and she had to pull it back. As she withdrew the needle, Hill reportedly moved his arm and pushed his hand between her thighs, nearly grasping her crotch, according to the report.

According to the police report, the nurse said that when Hill put his hand on her, he tried to take his fingers and press inward between her scrubs and her underwear. Hill kept his hand in the nurse’s vaginal area while she was trying to pull the needle out of his arm, she told police. After IV was secured , the victim in the alleged incident told another nurse to stay away from him, according to EPD.

The nurse also told police that Hill asked for her number after he touched her.

She told officers that she felt like Hill touched her because he knew she was going to be in a position where she couldn’t easily pull away. She told police that she didn’t want to jerk away from him and get his needle stuck in her accidentally.

“I have a man with a needle in his arm, blood coming out, and at this point, I am trying to protect myself and him because I don’t know if he has HIV or whatever,” the nurse said to police. “Because my knee-jerk reaction was to kick him in the face.”

After the incident, Hill was brought to the police department, where officers informed him of the allegations against him. According to police, Hill was “adamant” that he didn’t intentionally touch the nurse. He added that he wouldn’t have touched her vaginal area “because he does not even find her attractive,” the report said.

Hill is charged with second-degree assault, second-degree rape and fourth-degree sex offense.

He is being held without bond in the Talbot County Detention Center. A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Oct. 19.

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Rehab After Stroke: One Patient’s Journey

EASTON – At age 72, Tom Mendenhall of St. Michaels was enjoying the fifth year of his retirement from a career in business and administration. In his last full-time position, he’d spent seven years on the leadership team of Wye River Upper School in Queen Anne’s County, through which he came to understand the challenges experienced by teens with learning differences. Post retirement, he started a new venture advocating for children with special education needs and their parents.

A poker game with friends at the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Club was part of Mendenhall’s weekly routine. In early April 2021, he was enjoying the game until he tried to stand and discovered that he couldn’t put any weight on his left leg. Fortunately, a member of the group knew the symptoms of a stroke and directed Mendenhall to smile and then to raise his arms. His smile was lopsided and his right arm was not as high as his left.

“We think you’re having a stroke,” his friend said. “Say a complete sentence.”

In typical fashion, Mendenhall replied, “I’m not having a stroke!”

Nonetheless, his friends called for an ambulance, which arrived quickly and took him to University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton, which is designated as a primary stroke center. There he received the clot-busting drug tPA, also known as Alteplase or Activase, which restored blood flow to areas of his brain that were affected by the stroke.

Fortunately, the stroke had not impacted Mendenhall’s speech or cognitive ability, but walking – even standing – was impossible. During his admission for acute care he was evaluated by physical and occupational therapists who recommended him for acute rehab. He was admitted to the Requard Center for Acute Rehabilitation on the fifth floor of the Easton hospital.

“Mr. Mendenhall’s proprioception, which means perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body, was very poor,” said physical therapy assistant Ren Boettger, who has served on the Requard care team since 2014. “This, along with weakness in his left leg, was causing him to lean and pull so much that it took three of us to help him walk even a few steps.”

Initially, Boettger had doubts about how quickly Mendenhall could progress. “He described how active he had been so I was really worried for him,” she said. “He was looking forward to a family vacation at the beach in July, and I was thinking, no, he’s not going to be ready to really enjoy that.”

Within a few days, however, Mendenhall was making rapid improvement.

“He worked really hard, so much so that I sometimes had to reel him in a little,” Boettger said. “But about two weeks later, he was using a walker safely and ready for discharge. That’s the crazy thing about stroke recovery in the acute rehab setting – no two patients are alike and it’s hard to predict how long it will take. But we are always happy to be surprised by patients who progress more rapidly than we might have guessed.”

“The Stroke Center team and the therapists on Requard were excellent, everyone was so encouraging,” said Mendenhall. Ready to begin outpatient rehab, he was further motivated by the knowledge that for most patients recovering from stroke, the greatest progress is made within the first three months of the event.

On May 1, Mendenhall began outpatient rehab twice weekly at Shore Rehab at Easton, located in the newly expanded and renovated Orthopedic Center. His therapy team included physical therapist Carla Smith and physical therapy assistant Greg Terry, who focused on his endurance, balance and gait, along with occupational therapist/certified hand therapist Mary Hynes, who guided him through therapy to improve his left-hand grip and manual dexterity.

An important tool in Mendenhall’s gait improvement has been the Lokomat, a rehab technology that is usually found only in large research hospitals. A computer controls the pace of the Lokomat while recording the amount of weight Mendenhall places on the treadmill, his walking distance and speed, as well as his body’s response to movement. Using the data, Smith and Terry determine the balance between the assistance provided by the robotic legs and Mendenhall’s; as his gait improves, the technology adapts to provide minimal assistance and record his progress over time.

By early July, Mendenhall was able to walk up to 60 feet with the assistance of a cane, and when outdoors, with a brace on his leg to prevent foot drop.

“The hardest part is walking on grass,” he said. “You have to really push yourself.”

He also was making progress with his grip and dexterity, thanks to the guidance of Hynes, who is the only certified hand therapist in the five-county region served by UM Shore Regional Health.

“Fine motor skills seemed more challenging,” he said. “I could tell I was making progress — for example, I went from picking up pennies to picking up dimes — but I was surprised by how hard it was to do simple things, for example, clipping my own nails. And with all my therapy, I do better early in the day since I’m less tired.”

According to Hynes, Mendenhall’s early progress was promising. “In the first few months, his gross and fine motor coordination, endurance to activity and function, and strength had improved,” she said. “By early July he was able to perform self-care skills like buttoning, opening containers, jars and bottles, and shuffling cards. And he is always striving to do better, as he continues to work on endurance, strength, function, gross and fine motor coordination.”

Doing better has meant work at home as well as in rehab sessions. At his therapists’ recommendation, Mendenhall does hand and arm exercises at home and practices walking in his neighborhood. He no longer needs the leg brace, and he was able to navigate the sand dunes and the beach in South Carolina by using hiking poles.

As he continues his therapy and his advocacy work for students with learning differences, Mendenhall acknowledges the mental challenges of stroke rehab as well as the physical ones.

“For success in rehab, you have to get over what you can’t do and focus on what you can,” he said. “I’m a type A personality and I want to get everything done NOW, but I’ve worked hard to be more patient.”

“National Rehabilitation Week, September 19-25, is the perfect time to highlight the excellent work our inpatient and outpatient rehab teams do for our patients,” said Erin Scheele, director of Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services, UM Shore Regional Health. “Mr. Mendenhall’s story is a great example of our therapists work with patients to help restore their functionality, mobility and independence, and get them back to living their best lives.”

3 things

1 On this day in history, in 1976, former hostage Patricia Hearst was sentenced to seven years in prison for her part in a 1974 bank robbery in San Francisco carried out by the Symbionese Liberation Army. (Hearst was released after 22 months after receiving clemency from President Jimmy Carter.) A year ago, Florida prosecutors dropped a misdemeanor charge against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (pictured) after courts blocked their use of video that allegedly showed him paying for massage parlor sex. Famous birthdays: Political commentator Lou Dobbs is 76. Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Joe Greene is 75. Actor Kevin Sorbo is 63.

2 A community hub since Benny Goodman was blowing his clarinet, Hill’s Drug Store has provided medicine for both the body and the soul. Its blue marquee sign lit up the sunset nights as generations of families came in for milkshakes and grilled cheeses on Dover Street. It had an irrefutable Norman Rockwell vibe and was ahead of its time by being fully integrated in the early 1960s. Everyone was welcome to the drug store. The iconic blue and white neon sign in historic downtown Easton took its leave last month. It was carefully lowered from the spot that it had occupied since 1945. Today, the family owned drug store is thriving at its larger location on Idlewild Avenue. (Story on A16)

3 Troika Gallery owner and portrait artist Laura Era stopped by the Talbot County Free Library on Sept. 15 to unveil her new Anna Murray Douglass portrait that she donated to the Easton branch. Anna Murray Douglass was the first wife of Frederick Douglass, helped him escape slavery and supported his work as an abolitionist for over 44 years. Era also painted and donated a portrait of Frederick Douglass to the library as a part of last year’s Frederick Douglass Day. (Story on A10)

Police investigating wrong-way crash on Shore Highway

DENTON — Police are investigating a crash that sent three to the hospital on Thursday. Shortly before 1 p.m. on Sept. 23, emergency personnel responded to a motor vehicle collision on Shore Highway west of Gay Street.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a 2015 Ford passenger car, operated by Marquise Jackson, 38 of District Heights, Maryland, was traveling east on Shore Highway when it crossed the median into west bound traffic, striking a 2015 GMC SUV, operated by Claudia Yanacek, 73 of Columbia, Maryland, head on. Yanacek’s vehicle spun and struck 1992 tractor trailer, operated by Tia Gaines, 62 of Felton, Delaware.

According to Denton Chief of Police George Bacorn, both Jackson and Yanacek had to be extricated from their vehicles due to the severity of the collision. Jackson was transported to Bayhealth Hospital in Dover Hospital for treatment of very serious injuries.

Yanacek also sustained serious injuries and was transported to Peninsula Regional Medical Center. Gaines was transported to Shore Health in Easton for treatment of minor injuries.

Denton Police were assisted by the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police Road Troopers and Maryland State Police CRASH Team Investigators. Fire personnel from Denton and Greensboro Volunteer Fire Companies performed the extrications of both patients with the State Highway Administration providing traffic control for this incident.West bound Shore Highway was shut down for approximately two hours in order to clear this incident.