Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Death while waiting to be seen

It's hard to even know what to say about this story:

NEW YORK (AP) -- City hospital officials said they were shocked by surveillance footage showing a woman falling from her chair, writhing on the floor and dying as workers failed to help for more than an hour.

Esmin Green, 49, had been waiting in the emergency room for nearly 24 hours when she toppled from her seat at 5:32 a.m. June 19, falling face-down on the floor.

She was dead by 6:35, when someone on the medical staff, flagged down by a person in the waiting room, finally approached, nudged Green with her foot and gently prodded her shoulder, as if to wake her...

And this is really galling:

Security guards and a member of the hospital's staff appeared to notice her prone body at least three times but made no visible attempt to see whether she needed help. One guard didn't even leave his chair, rolling it around a corner to stare at the body and then rolling away a few moments later.

Yeah. We have the best healthcare money can buy in America. IF you can afford it. Otherwise, our healthcare system is becoming medieval at an accelerating pace.

The hospital is run by the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation, a private entity that contracts with the state.

"We are all shocked and distressed by this situation," HHC's president, Alan Aviles, said in a statement. "We express our deep regrets to the patient's family and will ensure a thorough investigation to answer any questions that remain."

That doesn't ring true, considering what has been found in the past at this hospital:

A state agency, the New York State Mental Hygiene Legal Service, filed a lawsuit a year ago, calling the psychiatric center "a chamber of filth, decay, indifference and danger."

Patients, the suit said, "are subjected to overcrowded and squalid conditions often accompanied by physical abuse and unnecessary and punitive injections of mind-altering drugs."

"From the moment a person steps through the doors," it added, "she is stripped of her freedom and dignity and literally forced to fight for the essentials of life."

The suit was especially critical of the hospital's emergency ward, saying it is so poorly staffed that patients are often marooned there for days while they wait to be evaluated.

Sometimes, the unit runs out of chairs, according to the lawsuit, forcing people to wait on foam mats or on the waiting room floor. The suit also claims that bathrooms are filthy and filled with flies, and that patients who complain too loudly are sometimes handcuffed, beaten or injected with psychotropic drugs.

I have only one question. Why doesn't the state just take over and run this hospital as a public entity? It's hard to imagine that it could be run any worse than it is now, and at least if the state were running it then we could collectively fire the management if they continued to run this kind of apalling institution.


Anonymous said...

That would never happen in a white neighborhood!

Anonymous said...

How can this happen in America??? This is the most horrible thing I have ever read. What has happened to our country?????????

Anonymous said...

I was so very shocked that I didn't express all of my feelings. Is it true that this wouldn never happen in a white neighborhood? If so, then this is an absolute disgrace to our nation.
I truly cannot believe that this actually happened. If so, then we need to re-examine our health care system.

Eli Blake said...


It happened. I know it's hard to believe, but this isn't the only story I've seen on this already.

And it might happen in your neighborhood, if not today then one day in the not-too-distant future. Our health care system is broken. We've got exactly the system that the folks who defeated healthcare reform in the 1990's wanted, and you can see how well they planned the future. Either didn't plan it, or didn't care about anything besides making money.

shrimplate said...


Anonymous said...

God have mercy on this country.