Friday, July 04, 2008

Esmin Green's Death on a Hospital Floor

My God, this is horrendous! Stephen Kusisto over at Planet of the Blind has written about a woman with disabilities who died on the waiting room floor at Kings County Hospital Center Psychiatric Emergency Department after being admitted a full 24 hours before her death. The whole scene was caught on the hospital's video cameras and the Associated Press has a clip of it that shows the woman's last few minutes alive.

Esmin Green was the forty-nine year old woman of color who had been admitted to King's County Hospital and, a day later, died there. This woman was in the prime of her life but she was left to die as hospital staff watched her collapse on the floor face-first. They watched her crawl and moan for HOURS and they did nothing to help her. No one even helped her up. There were other people in the waiting room, including hospital security guards, but even they did nothing to help Esmin.

In the video, she can be seen scrawling a message on the floor trying to communicate in some way. God only knows how terrifying it must have been for/to her, knowing that she was in a hospital and watching as people let her die right before their eyes. This is the sort of treatment that they thought she deserved. This is what goes on in psychiatric departments all around the country.

I was once admitted to our public hospital's psychiatric ward. I had a bad reaction when my Prednisone dosage was increased which exacerbated my schizophrenia causing me to have a "break" that lasted several days. As a result, I do not fully remember the first few days of my stay at the hospital. When my symptoms were back under control, I realized that, during those first days, other patients had raided my room and stolen my clothes. Though food was put in front of me, the other patients were allowed to take my food, so no one knew if I had eaten or not. This is how the hospital staff felt I deserved to be treated. Why? Simply because I was a patient there.

The medical examiner's office still hasn't released a cause of death for Esmin Green. It may be that her psychiatric symptoms were signs that something was wrong and she was in need of help...but maybe that's too much to ask of people who are being paid to do just that.

10 comments:

Barbara B. said...

Tragic, heart breaking, and frightening. Only in America...

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hello there!

I found your blog at Diary of An Anxious Black Woman! {waves}

I saw this video yesterday and I was horrified....no one even cared as she writhed and died?

This indifference is EXTREMELY common in hospitals that serve black patients and communities of color...there is a lot of callousness and indifference with the staff in these facilities. The black community does absolutely NOTHING to protest this treatment either.

There is also a stigma about mental illness that is prevalent in society and particularly vicious in the black community...I have seen people laughing at mentally ill people at the bus stop or in public places...they ARE LAUGHING at an illness....

Just talking about this makes me feel compelled to prepare a post about this callousness ...

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

You are welcome to come to my house (blog) anytime you would like and share your thoughts and wisdom with us! My door is always open to you, girlfriend!

The Truffle said...

Horrifying, isn't it? Really, this is where the "I've got mine, so STFU" mentality has gotten us. I'm sick to death of it.

Caroline Shepherd said...

Sweet Jesus, that is absolutely horrific.

Cruella said...

Terrible to hear about both yourself and the woman in the video clip. I have seen similar things happening in the UK and have highlighted your story and told my own here:

http://cruellablog.blogspot.com/2008/07/dying-for-attention.html

bint alshamsa said...

Cruella,

Thank you so very much for blogging about this. It can be a very difficult thing to write about the fact that I have schizophrenia because, as these hospital experiences (yours included) show, this society quickly demotes one to non/sub-human status if you are found to be mentally variant in any significant way. The easiest way to dismiss someone's claims is to position them as "crazy", "insane", or "deranged" in some way. This is what happened to Esmin Green. She was dismissed and ignored and nobody gave a damn until it became an issue that they might have to answer for. If these people knew that they'd have to answer to other PWD when they did this and that we'd be the ones who decided what their punishment should be, perhaps they'd be less likely to do this stuff.

I'm sad but not surprised to hear that the same sort of things happen in the UK. It's not just here and there. It's all over the world, unfortunately. Thank you for taking the time to be a good ally to people with disabilities. It means a lot to know that there are non-disabled people who are willing to analyze this stuff and think about what onlookers can do to improve a situation if one occurs in front of them.

By the way, I share your belief that everyone should read about the Milgram studies. It should be required reading at some point between grades 1-12. I had never even heard of Stanley Milgram until I went to college and, even then, there was no connection made between those studies and societal treatment of people with disabilities.

Daisy said...

This is just horrifying, Bint.

Anonymous said...

Have the security guard and other employees who ignored her been identified by full name anywhere?

bint alshamsa said...

Not that I know of. I'll look around and see if I can find this out.

belledame222 said...

oh my fucking god.