What health care crisis?

Here’s a story that makes me wonder if Los Angeles has become a third world country:

Last week, Edith Isabel Rodriguez, 43, died in the waiting room of the ER at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital after being ignored by hospital staff.

And that’s not the worst part.

She had been admitted the previous morning after complaining of abdominal pain.

Physicians there prescribed pain medication and released her that night, but relatives said Rodriguez was in so much pain that, instead of leaving, she and her boyfriend stayed on the benches in front of the hospital.

Her boyfriend, Jose Prado, went to get something to eat; when he returned an hour later, he found Rodriguez on the floor in the emergency room lobby in obvious pain. She said something inside her had popped.

Prado tried to get help, but the hospital staff was unresponsive… so he called 911 from a payphone. When 911 said there was nothing they could do, he tried to get hospital security to help… and here’s where things get even more screwed up:

Instead of going to Rodriguez’s aid, police ran her name through their computers. When an outstanding arrest warrant for a parole violation came up, they took her into custody, Prado said.

Police put her in a wheelchair so they could put her in a squad car to the police station for booking, she lost conciousness. Finally hospital personell responded, but were unable to resucitate her.

After having been to some of the better E.R.s in Los Angeles, this story doesn’t really surprise me.

Read the full story by Charles Ornstein at the L.A. Times…

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7 Replies to “What health care crisis?”

  1. I’ve had the misfortune of having an appointment at County General in LH, then being forced to wait 9 hours only to be told to come back another day. It’s well known that many people resort to calling 911 for emergency care from a payphone, often from right outside, just to get somebody to actually take a look at you. There’s some stupid rule that even if you are shot, but you manage to make your way to the hospital on your own, you still need to wait to be seen. Tip for everyone: if you want to have a chance at staying alive, call 911 (even if it drives up the costs to the city/county) as that’ll will be your only real chance of getting immediate emergency service. There’s a reason people still think of General Hospital as the place you go to die.

  2. County General is the dumping ground for the uninsured. Sad, but its been that way for the 20 some odd years I have lived here. Even sadder I don’t see it getting better soon.
    As a community, really as a state, we should have never allowed this to happen. But we did and never held our elected officials feet to the fire as they kept peeling back the funding for the trauma centers.
    This is one of those rare issues where I don’t think the private sector should be funding, rather it needs to be adequately funded by the city, county and state. Compared to some of the cities back east our sales taxes are lower.
    (This is where my humanist side overrules my tightwadded side…a way to fund pretty painlessly).
    The stats I found is that CA gross sales 1999-2000 were 98 BILLION Dollars, if we assume 1/4 is in CA and subject to sales tax that still leaves us with some 24.5 Billion to work with. IF we could get everyone to agree to added sales tax of 1/4% we suddenly have over 6 Billion to fund public trauma and emergency care. Not the ultimate solution but would make a dent in getting some services back.
    My numbers could be wrong and probably are but at some point we need to stand back and provide some basic services. This would need voter approval on a grand scale.

  3. I grew up in that neighborhood, and we used to call it” Killer King” for that very reason. Sad it keeps living up to that name.

  4. Frazgo, thats a nice idea but here’s the problem. Putting 6 Billion in our governments hands means that we would get about 500 million worth of services.

    C’mon, 6 billion? We need to hire at least 1000 people to do studies on how to best spend the 6 billion. Then we need another 100 or so people to go away on a “fact finding summit” and discuss why the first 1000 people were wrong and their plan is better.

    Then of course we’d have a health care bill introduced that would have an extra 4 billion of non related spending attached and we’d have to raise another 1/4% to pay for the original 6 billion which now requires 10 billion to fund.

    Sad but true my friend.

  5. Thanks for the reality check Michael#1, I’ll put the pipe dreams away and go back to being a tightwad curmudgeon.

  6. The Times article mostly concentrates on the egregious behavior and negligence of the hospital staff, which is understandable. But I would like to know just what the hell the County Police thought they were doing, arresting a person who was sitting in an ER waiting room in obvious pain, when the only reason she came to their attention was that her boyfriend had asked them for help. Is it the policy of the Office of Public Safety to run checks on, and/or arrest, hospital patients who are in the hospital for non-crime-related sicknesses or injuries?

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