"Thanks a lot, officers," an emergency room nurse told Los Angeles County police who brought in [Edith Isabel] Rodriguez early May 9 after finding her in front of the Willowbrook hospital yelling for help. "This is her third time here."Actually, we don't need a time machine; we're dealing with current events here, at the famous ... infamous ... Martin Luther King Jr. - Harbor hospital in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. It is the closest thing you'll find to a state-managed, Hillarycare hospital as you can imagine.
The 43-year-old mother of three had been released from the emergency room hours earlier, her third visit in three days for abdominal pain. She'd been given prescription medication and a doctor's appointment.
Turning to Rodriguez, the nurse said, "You have already been seen, and there is nothing we can do," according to a report by the county office of public safety, which provides security at the hospital.
Parked in the emergency room lobby in a wheelchair after police left, she fell to the floor. She lay on the linoleum, writhing in pain, for 45 minutes, as staffers worked at their desks and numerous patients looked on.
Aside from one patient who briefly checked on her condition, no one helped her. A janitor cleaned the floor around her as if she were a piece of furniture. A closed-circuit camera captured everyone's apparent indifference.
Arriving to find Rodriguez on the floor, her boyfriend unsuccessfully tried to enlist help from the medical staff and county police — even a 911 dispatcher, who balked at sending rescuers to a hospital.
Alerted to the "disturbance" in the lobby, police stepped in — by running Rodriguez's record. They found an outstanding warrant and prepared to take her to jail. She died before she could be put into a squad car. (LATimes)
The hospital was created by the public sector after the Watts riots in 1965 and opened in 1968. Because the private sector wasn't interested in the gang- and welfare-ridden neighborhood, the hospital has been operated ... mismanaged ... by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services since its outset.
It is such a disaster the LATimes won a Pulitzer at the expense of the poor people who had to go there for health care. Over the years, it has digressed from a 233-bed facility with a tip-top trauma center and a conjoined medical school to a 48-bed hospital with no trauma center or medical school. In just the last two and a half years, 260 hospital staffers, including 41 doctors, had been fired or had resigned as a result of disciplinary proceedings. The trauma facility lost its certification and was closed.
Financially, it's just as much a mess. One consulting firm was paid $1 million to straighten out problems with the nursing staff. From the story above, you can see it wasn't $1 million well spent. Another consulting firm was paid $17 million to operate the facility for $18 months.
And the whole thing has sunk into a swamp of litigation ... with Ms. Rodriguez's family to join that club soon.
Why is it exactly that this government-bred and government-run hospital should be a model for the destruction of America's medical system?