Her Name was Esmin Green
Esmin Green sang gospel music at church. Esmin Green was a mother with six children. Esmin Green was a black woman who died on the floor of one of New York City’s public hospitals while waiting for psychiatric care and being ignored.
No, it’s not the first time somebody has died waiting for treatment in a hospital emergency department, but it should serve as a wake-up call for those not paying attention. Esmin Green collapsed on the floor after waiting almost a full day to be seen. Nobody noticed for half an hour, and that person just walked away. Another staff member, instead of bending down and saying, “Ma’am, ma’am,” instead of talking to her or touching her like she was a human being, prodded her with a foot.
Her patient record contains absolute falsehoods, documentation that she went to the bathroom, that she was sitting quietly, when videotape clearly shows that she was already collapsed on the floor.
Part of the Kings County Hospital Center’s response strategy will be to check in on patients more frequently and document those checks. How well can such documentation be trusted when documentation on Esmin Green contained outright lies?
How many people weren’t satisfied by reading accounts of this event, and just had to watch the video themselves out of morbid curiosity, not out of compassion for Esmin Green?
The public reaction hasn’t always been any better than Kings County’s care in this case. I have seen comments asking where her family was, asking why she didn’t just leave, why other people who were not healthcare providers and were also waiting for psychiatric care didn’t help her – comments that put the blame on her and everyone but the responsible system and parties for dying on the floor, alone. Reports say that Esmin Green was involuntarily admitted in the first place – the hospital determined that she was in need of care, and should not leave without receiving it, they just hadn’t provided any. Frankly, how much of an asshole do you have to be to say that someone waiting in an emergency department for psychiatric care should have been the one to control the situation? How much of an asshole do you have to be to see video of someone dying on the floor in a public area and being ignored and to not see that something went seriously wrong with the people and system who were supposed to be providing her with care?
What if Esmin Green wasn’t a poor woman? A black woman? A woman with mental health problems? A woman who needed to use the public hospitals, which should not be providing substandard care just because they serve poor/black/mentally ill people? If I asked you, “Where do you think this is more likely to happen – the private hospital in a good part of town, or the public hospital that takes everybody?” what would you say? And why would that answer ever be appropriate? Is this the best we can do for our fellow Americans? Or is it just the best we’re willing to do?
Ask yourself: If your white, male Mayor or city council members or university president collapsed on the floor of a hospital, would he have been ignored? Would poking him with a shoe have been an adequate assessment technique? Or would a team of people have swooped in to save the day (and the life)? Would our hypothetical person of privilege have waited for care for nearly a day in the first place, and if not, is that an appropriate way to dole out healthcare? Yes, the healthcare system is broken. But it’s a hell of a lot more broken for some people than for others.
Important Related Posts:
More information from the New York ACLU
Esmin Green…Yes, She Mattered – Womanist Musings
Esmin Green – Dies B/c She Does Not Count – WOC PhD
“Flesh that needs to be loved”…. more thoughts on Esmin Green – harrietsdaughter at Don’t Do That
PS-Sometimes when I find something completely outrageous and horrifying, it takes me a while to write the related post. I want to get it right, not get it fast.