Friday, June 15, 2007

Social malpractice

I hope that you don't think my using this image was done in bad taste or in disrespect to the Rodriguez family. It's just that I think it's perfectly symbolic of the effects of poor social reform.

It’s no secret that our health care system is one of the more inferior ones in the entire industrialized world. Presciption drug costs are off the charts (where else but in American can crack and weed be less expensive than heart medicine?). Pharmaceutical companies have hijacked the industry. Emergency rooms have hour long waiting lines. Poor communities are not being adequately served. Hospitals are overpopulated and understaffed. The list goes on and on. But the case of Edith Rodriguez (in the picture above) is - to me – is a comprehensive summary of all problematic issues that exist in the medical system. Here's how it all went down:

Last month, Mrs. Rodriguez was admitted into the Martin Luther King Hospital after complaining of serious stomach symptoms; which were later identified as a perforated bowel. Incidentally, she was released, readmitted for the same problems and re-released though there was no evidence that the problem was even identified; much less remedied. As her symptoms grew increasingly worse, she went to the emergency room yet again; this time being ignored by the hospital staff. Despite being in obvious and needing immediate attention after vomiting blood, she was left to collapse right in the middle of the floor (interestingly though, witnesses reported seeing janitors mopping the floor up around her. Yet no one came to her aid, even when medical analysts indicated that her alignment was treatable). Apparently, Mrs. Rodriguez's status as a drug addict impacted their decision to help.

The situation got so bad that one of her family members called a 911 dispatcher to request an ambulance to take her to another location. Tape recordings show that the dispatcher responded to the caller with rudeness and apathy. After that, another person called a 911 dispatcher and was treated to the same apathy. This time around, the dispatcher was frankly downright mean and condescending to the caller. So while Mrs. Rodriquez was lying on a hospital floor for almost an hour, bleeding from the mouth, and crying out in pain, the hospital staff on hand ignored her, people cleaned up around her, and 911 dispatchers rudely dismissed the calls they received to aid her. Oh, this gets better…

Seeing the complete ineptitude of the medical workers at the hospital, the family made a judgement call to involve the LAPD. Once the police arrived, instead of trying to resolve the situation and to get the medical workers to do their job, these ass-munches arrested the fatally-ill Rodriguez because of a warrant out on her. She died as they were carting her from the emergency room.

When it comes to gut-wrenching stories, I've heard just about everything. I’ve followed stories about rigged elections, police framings, corporate and/or political scandals, and racism so blatant you’d think we were still going through Jim Crowism. But I have never, ever heard a story like this.

This story brings to light the feastering and deep-seated problems in the underbelly of this country; things that seem to get lost when we try to claim “greatness”. There are some serious issues that need to be addressed. If this hospital was as horrible as its reputation suggested, why was it still operational? Was does this say about the service provided to poor people? Who (if anyone) will be held accountable for this death? The medical workers? The 911 staff? The police? What will stories like this do for an ever-declining health care system?

I’m interested to see if any of the Presidential candidates will address the Rodriguez stories or other countless tales of medical mishaps. Mrs. Rodriguez didn’t simply die. She was murdered. Murdered by a system of apathy, indifference, substandard emergency preparedness, and narrow-scoped conviction by the criminal justice apparatus. Perhaps she’s died for a cause that will open this country’s eyes and led to social change. But more than likely, this will get filed away just as the death of one less minority problem. That’s the most harrowing thing about this story.


13 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Greeneyes said...

My Handsome Greeneyed KINg,

In a word , Bravo!!!
Great POST.

joslyn said...


You already know how I feel about the government. I have so many comments, but this is so sad that I'll just remain in prayer for her family. God has the final say, and vengence is His.

*side note*

Not trying to sound cruel, but why was her funeral almost a month after her death?

Diane J. said...

I heard about this incident on the news yesterday.

It's easy to blame this woman's death on "the system", "the government", etc. But the bottom line is that systems and governments are made of people. PEOPLE have become cruel, uncaring, apathetic and hardhearted to the suffering of other people.

And I don't profess to have any answers, much less easy fixes for this. All I can say is, even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

God, have mercy on us all.

Joslyn said...


You're ABSOLUTELY right....

excellent post.

Responsibility...pass it on

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how the media tries to spin this story. Nobody seems to mention that this woman was addicted to drugs which likely caused her affliction. When you're dealing with overworked nurses and doctors, the last thing they need to deal with a slew drug addicts. Where's the personal responsibility in this matter?

AnTi AnOnYmOus said...

Are really going to ask such a question? a great deal of illness is self inflicted , over eating ,not eating , not eating the right food , drinking , drugging , abuse of the body , smoking , working to hard , not working the body enough,lack of sleep, as well as many other issues can cause disease .
In your perfect life you must not have had any of these factor in! God forbid any of your loved ones ,if you have any, become ill , are you going to evaluate if they deserve medical treatment and if you do what makes one ailment more important to be treated ?
If you end up with heart disease and are in for treatment ,should they pass you by cause you smoked , or sat to much or whatever , and further more , who the hell are you to judge .

Bottome line , this was a human being !GET IT! If you do not , God have mercy on you,your mentality is so slanted you cannot see straight .
and over worked , you still have to do your job and how can you not notice someone vomit blood on the floor .
Do the world a favor and grow a heart .

Andre said...

@ Greeny: Hey my green-eyed queen. Thanks for the compliment. I'm just sorry that this pathetic and dispicaple story had to be blogged about.

@ Jos: "God has the final say, and vengence is His."

True. I agree. But I think somebody needs to be held accountable and get punished with EARTHLY laws and punishments too. If we don't have to worry about 'worldly' punishments, then we could do whatever we want, get away with it, and repent right before we die.

@ Diane: Hey granny! How've you been dear?

To address your point: I don't think that people perceive the government as some invisible force (though that is how they seem to operate). Institutions are created by people, yes. So when those people screw up, they need to be held accountable and punished accordingly. At least that's what I think.

Good to hear from you again!

@ Anonymous: Wha...? So you mean to tell me that anybody who does bodily harm to themselves should be denied service when they face terminal illness? So, does that rule only apply to poor folks or does it apply to everyone? If this is your stance, I pray that you don't work in the health industry.

But then again, since the health industry has turned into BIG BUSINESS, maybe it would be a good match for you after all...

@ Anti: You said it all. No point in trying to add to commentary that does it all. Thanks.

Cynthia said...

I read that federal officials inspected the hosiptal and gave them three weeks to get it together before they pulled funding. I guess that SOME good came out this, little as it may seem.

Andre said...

Cyn, I'm not sure what type of improvements the feds are expecting with a hospital that has extremely limited resources.

'Anonymous' actually made a good point (I'm sorry, by the way, for denigrating you. I can't promote my blog as a place where people can openly and freely exchange thoughts if I bash them). Hospitals (especially in urban communities) are underfunded, understaffed, and undersupplied. Simply telling them to "get their act together" won't necessarily do it for them. How can they afford more staff? How can they purchase newer equipment? How can they sustain just by getting paid through Medicade? They can't.

And the poor suffer because of it.

Joslyn said...


Anti-You took the words right outta my mouth. 90% of illnesses that American's suffer from are self-inflicted (STD's, Heart problems, most cancers). We know what we SHOULD do, however, we just don't. If we went by that line of thinking, virtually NO ONE would be sen at a hospital. Also,anonymous, notice how you said:

"this woman was addicted to drugs which likely caused her affliction"

LIKELY is the key word...that couldn't be determined because she was never seen.

Andre, you're right. I need to change my perseption

Joanne said...

Anonymous, I'm not trying to jump on the bash bandwagon, but I'm also disturbed by your take on this. Like Joslyn and Anti said, health care institutions are FULL of people (rich and poor) who are suffering from self-inflicted afflictions. The only reason why this woman's history as a drug user came up was because she was poor and because illegal drugs were involved (they're illegal for a number of other social reasons. That's another topic altogether.)

If we're the civilized nation that we claim to be, service should be available to ALL and not just the rich and socially accepted.

Andre said...

@ Joslyn: "LIKELY is the key word...that couldn't be determined because she was never seen."

Thank you. That's the very nature of discrimination. This case went well beyond a hospital's inability to provide service. This case speaks more to their unwillingness to provide service. There are some deeper issues that haven't been explored.

By the way, when you said "Andre, you're right. I need to change my perseption", were you being sarcastic? Punk!

@ Joanne: "If we're the civilized nation that we claim to be, service should be available to ALL and not just the rich and socially accepted."

Well put.

Joslyn said...

I wasn't be sarcastic!!