Friday, March 30, 2012

Woman Arrested After Begging For Care At Hospital, Then Dies In Jail

It is said that all it takes for the triumph of evil is for "good" men to do nothing. Good? How is a man good if he does nothing to help another human being who is suffering? Dying? Especially if that man has taken an oath to watch over the life and health of  their fellow human beings (doctors), or has sworn to protect their fellow human beings (police). 

Sadly, for Anna Brown, a 29-year-old African American woman left homeless after a tornado in 2010 that destroyed her home, after she lost her job at a sandwich shop, met with the most blatant and callous disregard in her time of need, instead. 
Ms. Brown, 29, had sprained her ankle that week and on September 20, went to Saint Louis University Hospital for treatment. The X-rays were negative and she was given painkillers and discharged. But Ms. Brown was not satisfied, sensing something more was wrong with her. She refused to leave the hospital, so police were called. Hospital security called police, so Ms. Brown, in a wheelchair due to the pain in her legs, rowed herself next door to a children’s hospital. Though doctors there said she did in fact have tenderness in her legs, they said they could not treat her because it was a pediatric hospital. Refusing to return to SLU Hospital, an ambulance took her to SSM St. Mary’s Health Center, a hospital with a mission statement emphasizes “special concern for people who are materially poor and vulnerable.” Ms. Brown was homeless and on Medicaid after a tornado in 2010 destroyed her home and she lost her job at a sandwich shop.

Ms. Brown was given ultrasounds on both legs, which did not find any blood clots or other abnormalities, according to State inspectors who examined her medical records. The hospital gave Ms. Brown the number to several homeless shelters and sent her on her way. But Ms. Brown returned eight hours later, now complaining of leg and abdominal pain. Hospital staff refused to treat her, giving her discharge papers which she refused to sign. Richmond Heights Police, who were already at the scene, wheeled Ms. Brown out of the hospital, as she yelled “my legs don’t work!” At the request of the hospital, police arrested Ms. Brown and charged her with trespassing.

When they arrived at the jail, Ms. Brown told the police she could not put pressure on her legs, so they dragged her out of the car by her arms. Police listed “possible drug use” as their reason for Ms. Brown’s behavior, since hospital staff told them she was “fit for confinement.” Though the woman moaned in pain and begged for help, police dragged her into a jail cell and laid her on the concrete floor, even though a cot was right next to her. Ms. Brown stopped moving and breathing fifteen minutes later. Paramedics tried to revive her without success, so they rushed her back to St. Mary’s, where she died within an hour. The autopsy revealed she died from blood clots in her legs that ultimately lodged in her lungs.


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