imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Death in Los Angeles hospital exposes social crisis in US

by rafeal azul Friday, Jun. 22, 2007 at 10:26 PM

Edith Isabel Rodriguez died on May 9th while two people called the emergency services phone number, 911, frantically trying to get her medical help. She died just outside the emergency room in Los Angeles’ King-Harbor hospital after spending hours seeking treatment for a steadily worsening condition. The entire tragedy reveals the strained and unhealthy state of social relations in America today. The case received much media attention in recent weeks after the release of tape recordings of the 911 calls and a hospital video showing Rodriguez in the hours before her death—including segments showing a janitor mopping up around Rodriguez as she writhed in pain on the floor of the emergency room.



These recordings show that despite the best efforts of Rodriguez’s husband and the pleading of a second caller, Rodriguez received no assistance. Finally, when her pain became impossible to ignore, someone in the ER summoned the police, who proceeded to arrest Rodriguez on an outstanding warrant. Rodriguez, 43, a mother of three, died as she was being placed in a squad car at 1:50 a.m.

No doubt these images strike a common chord. How is it possible that Rodriguez died in such agony, while being completely ignored by those who were supposed to help her?

Rodriguez’s death did not elicit great media concern at first. The Los Angeles Times first reported the tragedy on June 2nd, three weeks after her death. The county coroner determined that it was accidental and due to a ruptured bowel. The body was released to her family members. She was not buried until June 12, since it took her family over a month to raise the money needed to give her a decent funeral. Indeed, if it were not for the recordings, her death would have gone the way of so many similar incidents across the country—that is, it would have been ignored.

Media attention has focused almost entirely on the reactions of the 911 operators, including the responses of an operator who treated with apparent contempt the pleadings of one caller who sought to get help to Rodriguez. To stop at the actions of the individual operators or the hospital staff, however, serves to obscure the more fundamental issues involved.

King-Harbor hospital is located in South Central LA, one of the poorest sections of the metropolis. The McCone Commission, appointed to report on the causes of the 1965 Watts riot, determined that lack of access to medical care was one of the main grievances of the 1.5 million residents of Watts, Willowbrook and Compton, which make up part of South Central. The hospital was something of a concession to residents and opened its doors in 1972.

In its heyday, Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital (renamed King-Harbor only recently) was lauded for its world-class quality and for its many services to the community. However, the social conditions that underlay the riots in the 1960s were not addressed, and this could not but have a profound impact on the hospital itself. In contrast with unemployment rates of 2 or 3 percent in Santa Monica or Orange County, South Central Los Angeles has double-digit unemployment—in some areas higher than 20 percent. Infant mortality in South Central—13 per 1,000 births—is the highest in California and twice the state average.

A hospital in many ways concentrates within its doors the social ills in the community at large, magnifying these ills a hundredfold. Drug abuse, violent crime and gang shootings, the persistent and corrosive effects of poverty upon the physical health of a community, the flooding of emergency rooms by poor workers or unemployed residents unable to afford health insurance—all of this places great strains on the staff, which is invariably overworked and underpaid.

Moreover, a hospital like King-Harbor will have continual difficulties trying to attract the most qualified staff. Those who can will often work elsewhere, in better-funded hospitals in more prosperous areas. Recent reports indicate that 60 percent of the nurses at the hospital failed parts of competency examinations. There are no doubt many extremely dedicated doctors and nurses at King-Harbor, as there are at any hospital, but this by itself is inadequate without the devotion of sufficient social resources.

Rodriguez herself suffered from many of the problems endemic to the area. She had no steady job or address. She survived on odd-jobs and lived with relatives. In the coroner’s ruling, Rodriguez is described as a “quasi-transient” woman with a history of abusing drugs. There is evidence that she used methamphetamines, a highly addictive stimulant that is an increasing problem in the US. Like other patients of the hospital, she represented those that society had left behind.

Rodriguez had been in the ER three days in a row prior to her death. Each time she was given pain medication and sent home. She had been discharged from the ER a few hours before her death, with an appointment and instructions to see a doctor if she had more pain of vomiting. When she came in again, assisted by the police, the triage nurse mentioned that Rodriguez was a “regular” patient and told her that they could do nothing else for her. A Los Angeles Times report speculates that Rodriguez was known to the ER staff and considered to be a “complainer.”

It is not difficult to imagine a likely perspective of the hospital workers who refused to treat Rodriguez. Perhaps they were angered by her repeated visits. Perhaps they blamed her to some extent for her apparent drug problems, adopting an individualist approach to such social problems that is common in the US. Perhaps they did not quite believe her complaints of extreme pain. No doubt coarsened by the continual trauma of death that transpired within the hospital doors, for whatever reason there was no attempt to help Rodriguez as she suffered and ultimately died. This is not to excuse the treatment Rodriguez received, but it is necessary to understand where it comes from.

The bureaucratic and Kafkaesque response to the working poor is not limited to a handful of overworked Los Angeles nurses or emergency dispatchers. Across this country the citizens of the inner cities or rural areas, the elderly, the mentally ill, and those battling addictions have often become invisible to overburdened and underfunded institutions that provide barely minimal service at the lowest possible cost.

Individuals who work within these institutions can come at times to reflect the indifference, even hostility, that official society has for the lives of the broad mass of the people. Such was evidently the case with the 911 calls made in an attempt to get Rodriguez treatment when none was forthcoming at the hospital itself.

There were two calls to 911 dispatchers, one by José Ponce, Rodriguez’s common-law husband, another by an unknown woman, possibly another patient waiting at the ER. During the second call, the 911 dispatcher insisted that “you are at a hospital” and that, “I can’t do anything for you for the quality of the hospital.” He berated the caller for improperly using the 911 system to complain about the hospital’s poor quality of care. Interrupting the caller on a number of occasions, he insisted that no crime was taking place and that the fire department paramedics would in all likelihood not respond to an emergency inside a hospital.

People are coarsened, but they are reflecting a coarsened society. To the extent that they may exhibit indifference, that they may lose for a period certain basic instincts of compassion—or these instincts may become weakened—it is a reflection of a more profound indifference, and sickness, in the social structure itself.

Contemporary American society is characterized by enormous levels of social inequality. The vast majority of society’s resources are controlled by a small minority, directed toward the accumulation of profit and personal wealth, with only a few relatively small crumbs left for such essential social services as health care. From the standpoint of the ruling elite, people like Rodriguez are expendable. Less directly, the continual barbarism of the American government must have an effect—the war in Iraq, Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib. Particularly in the absence of an organized political opposition, these examples of indifference and contempt for human life on a grand scale, coupled by the relentless propaganda of the media, are bound to filter down into the consciousness of certain layers of the population.

Rodriguez’s case is hardly unique at King-Harbor hospital. Beginning in 2003, a series of reports in the Los Angeles Times shed light on substandard care that had led to the deaths of several patients, attributed to neglect and lack of training for nurses. Inspections by federal authorities in 2004 and 2006 resulted in the partial closure of the hospital, including the elimination of the trauma center. The hospital now has only 48 beds and is a hospital of last resort. Citizens of South Central dubbed it “killer King,” to be avoided by whoever has the transportation to go elsewhere.

King-Harbor is typical of many other inner city hospitals, such as the notorious Greater Southeast hospital in Washington D.C. and Detroit’s Riverview, which are equally deficient. In New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other states, inner-city medical services are being gutted, public hospitals closed, and medical care outsourced to private institutions much more concerned with their bottom line than with the quality of life of inner city residents.

In California, years of neglect and funding cuts have has a serious impact on public hospitals in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities. The problems at King-Harbor are being used by the federal government to threaten a cut off of federal funding, threats that have been renewed after the death of Rodriguez. This will only further intensify the underlying social problems.

The media concern for Edith Rodriguez lasted only a few days. Networks and newspapers are already moving on to the next item.
Report this post as:

Local News

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 12:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 12:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 4:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J10 11:58PM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M30 10:20PM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 12:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 1:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 2:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 3:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 2:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 1:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 1:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 4:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 1:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A26 10:37PM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Children Incorporated Earns 4-Star Rating on Charity Navigator J16 11:24AM

Democratic Socialists of America J14 4:57PM

Leonard Peltier Non Violent Native American Political Prisoner since 1970's J14 4:18PM

Paraphysique miscellanées de l'aggiornamento J14 12:54AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Cleanup J13 4:14PM

FBI Investigated LA County Sheriff Baca,Why Not Hank Skinner's Persecution? J13 3:52PM

Updated Partial List Of Famous Vegetarians, Vegans, & Fruitarians J13 2:59PM

The Shortwave Report 07136/18 Listen Globally! J12 4:36PM

Social Policy as Social Infrastructure J12 3:38AM

Vol I: 84 Varieties Of GOP Election Fraud J12 1:50AM

Texas Can Call it An Execution,But It is A State Sponsored Murder of Hank Skinner.. J11 6:48PM

June 2018 Honduras coup update J11 3:35PM

Maria Estrada doubles down on racist support J11 1:40PM

New York Women in Film & Television Announces 2018 NYWIFT Ha Phuong Scholarship Recipients J11 10:14AM

Trapps de la domination, trapps de l'aliénation J11 1:31AM

Please Work For The Defeat Of Brett Kavanaugh And Why J09 8:54PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 1:27PM

Transinhumanisme ( transe inhumanisme ) J09 12:44PM

Google, World's Biggest Censor, Was Founded By The CIA J09 10:25AM

For a World Free of Nuclear Risks J09 8:29AM

Corrupt CDC Ignores Meat Fish Recalls J09 4:55AM

The (Temporary) End of Globalization J09 3:03AM

Aternatives to Abortions such as Plan B the pill, condoms and IUD J08 4:03PM

U.S Congressional Legal Minds Know Better Than Allowing Texas To Murder Hank Skinner J08 3:37PM

ACLU in many US states defends in court KKK and American Nazis Sometimes for Money J07 11:28PM

Judge Brett Kavanaugh: 12 Of Many Reasons To Oppose Him J07 9:00AM

Insensibilité engrammée J07 2:37AM

Silver Lining J07 12:21AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy