A Navy physician assigned to a submarine tender in Norfolk was ordered yesterday to face a court-martial on charges that she violated Navy regulations by selling soap products on her ship and falsifying medical examinations.
Lt. Cathy Lee Poland, 30, the medical officer for the USS Emory S. Land, is charged with violating standards of conduct while she was assigned to the tender from July 1984 through February.
Poland, who was in charge of the medical care for the 1,300 sailors on the ship, allegedly signed records for physical exams she did not conduct and was accused of calling a sailor who had suffered severe burns a "wimp," the Navy said.
Poland attempted to resign from the service, but the Navy's Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel, Rear Adm. David L. Harlow, rejected her resignation, deciding that "circumstances warranted a referral to a trial," said spokesman Lt. Stephen Pietropaoli.
In all, Poland, who has been detailed to non-medical administrative duties since March, faces three charges detailing 38 allegations of improper conduct, care and management of the tender's medical operations. No date has been set for her trial, which will be held in Norfolk, a spokesman said.
Poland, a 1981 graduate of the Oklahoma College of Osteopathic Medicine and a member of the Navy's medical corps since 1982, declined to comment on the charges, the Navy said.
The court-martial referral was disclosed yesterday after a two-month investigation, officials said.
A senior Navy official indicated this week that the investigation was part of an increased effort by the Navy to scrutinize its medical care. Military health care has been the focus of critical internal reports by each branch of the Armed Services and the Inspector General of the Defense Department.
A House Judiciary subcommittee will be holding hearings Monday and Tuesday to address concerns about military medical care. Similar hearings by the Senate's Armed Services Committee are expected later this month.
According to the court-martial charges, Poland improperly operated an Amway soap business on the ship from July 1984 through February 1985 and "wrongfully" solicited help with sales from the crew.
The charges also allege that Poland "maltreated Engineman Recruit Denise Bissonett" by telling a medical corpsman not to recommend a light duty assignment for Bissonett although the sailor had "suffered severe burns to her ankle on Jan. 23, 1985 and was in severe pain." Poland told the corpsman: " 'Tell the wimp to get back to work' or words to that effect," the charge states.
Navy spokesmen could not say what punishment Poland would face if convicted.