Historic Border Patrol Badge Artifact

Los Angeles Part 4

For example, one man appeared at the emergency room door suffering from gangrene of the intestines. It was later — somehow — discovered that there in the hospital ER, he had fallen off his gurney and for more than 12 hours had been laying right on the floor of the emergency room in a large pool of his own vomit … stone cold dead.

Another patient appeared in the emergency room with gangrene on his leg, pneumonia and a collapsed lung. And kidney failure. He stayed in the emergency room for more than 22 hours and received nothing. The good news is that in this specific case the hospital staff wasn’t terribly encumbered by any huge cold body laying stiff on the floor which would have created a general traffic hazard to the many visitors and staff who were passing by.

Then there is the woman, with absolutely no regard at all for the delicate ears and noses of ER staff, who actually writhed in pain on the ER floor screaming and vomiting blood — for nearly an hour — and nothing was done. Well, that’s not really true, the ER staff (and even other patients) called the police to have that screaming woman wriggling around on the floor hauled away. The police arrived and there was some discussion between the police and the ER staff about the purpose of a hospital and the delicate nuances in the term Hospital Emergency Room. But, well, everything worked out as well as can be expected. The woman died before the police could take her to another hospital. Her colon had ruptured and all of her feces seems to have swished around her internal organs and she kinda slowly watched herself ferment to death … or something.

Yes, the authorities demure that this hospital does seem to be somewhat out of compliance in the areas of nursing, pharmacy and quality assurance but it remains open as a symbol of neighborhood strength and of our collective cultural future.

The links between MLK Hospital and Mexico are more interesting than one might imagine and even include a former MLK doctor who was arrested on suspicion of killing a former patient of the hospital — a deaf-mute — during a sexual encounter in a border town — Calexico — hotel room. This would be a humdrum affair if it weren’t for the dozens of video tapes of many other such encounters which seem to have all been recorded right at MLK Hospital and which include an unconscious naked man strapped to a board. During one of these diverse encounters which occurred right inside an MLK hospital room, the doctor had barred the door and police were called. The doctor finally opened the door and showed the police his hospital identification. The police did notice the straps and the video camera but it’s really best not to rile the neighborhood (e.g. The Watts and Rodney King riots) and / or face a massive lawsuit, so they left.

This hospital handles about 45,000 emergency room cases a year. It’s clients have little regard for deportment and the hospital’s interior walls are covered in filth and many have the drywall kicked in. There are other hospitals ringing the area to the south and west and east. Police and others in the know make it known that the last place they want to be taken if wounded is MLK hospital. They would prefer the half hour to 45 minute ambulance ride (Los Angeles is a big place remember) to a real hospital even if it puts their life in danger.

Because the undocumented migrant does not pay a hospital bill and because by federal law anyone who makes it into the Emergency Room must be treated, all of the hospitals ringing these barrios are facing bankruptcy.

To survive, Los Angeles hospitals just close their Emergency Rooms. Yes, many Los Angeles hospitals have no Emergency Room. They have armed guards, yes, Emergency Rooms, no. Los Angeles has lost ten hospital ERs already and the flood of the indigent undocumented migrants is sending a shockwave out from the barrios and crushing hospital after hospital.

Of course, the Martin Luther King Hospital is immediately adjacent to Nickerson Gardens which is the largest federally funded housing project west of the Mississippi. The Nickerson Gardens complex occupies nearly 70 acres and is ruled by several youthful groups which we certainly should not call gangs.

It would be mean spirited to ask the immigration status of any of its residents.

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