The Daily Scribe

Thought Provoking Issues!

Let’s Go To The Videotape!

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A catch phrase used by sport commentator Warner Wolf to introduce highlights seems apropos on this occasion . . . since the videotape in question provides concrete evidence of the deplorable conditions at the psychiatric ward at Kings County Hospital.

Esmin Green, 49, a devout churchgoer from a small country village, Lluidas Vale, in Jamaica had been involuntarily taken to Kings County Hospital on June 18.

In what would seem incredulous if it had not been captured on surveillance tapes, Ms. Green sat in the waiting room for twenty-four hours without being attended to by any of the hospital’s staff.

Even more horrific is that the tape clearly depicts the indifference and disregard of the hospital’s employees towards Ms. Green when she collapsed onto the waiting room floor.

The surveillance camera video shows a woman falling off the waiting room chair, landing face-down on the floor and convulsing. The NYCLU indicated that the woman collapsed on June 19 at 5:32 a.m., and she stopped moving at 6:07 a.m.

Ms. Green sprawled out in the corner between two rows of waiting room chairs could be seen writhing in pain as she attempted to get up from the floor. Moments later she ceased moving.

Ironically all of this occurring right in front of the surveillance cameras which are supposed to be monitored by security guards. A guard appears on the tape but seems to be more interested in looking at television although Ms. Green is in full view face-down on the floor.

Nearly an hour elapsed before the guard wheeling himself in an office chair, realizes that Ms. Green is on floor and summons help.

If the treatment or lack of towards Ms. Green wasn’t inhumane enough by Kings County Hospital . . . the NYCLU has evidence that hospital staff falsified her records to cover up the lack of assistance she received while sprawled out on the floor.

“Contrary to what was recorded from four different angles by the hospital’s video cameras, the patient’s medical records say that at 6 a.m., she got up and went to the bathroom, and at 6:20 a.m., she was ‘sitting quietly in waiting room’ . . . more than ten minutes since she last moved and 48 minutes after she fell to the floor.”

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, which is responsible for overseeing the hospital, released a statement regarding the circumstances surrounding Ms. Green’s death.

“We are shocked and distressed by this situation. It is clear that some of our employees failed to act based on our compassionate standards of care.”

This statement however seems incongruent with the reputation Kings County Hospital has built up over the years.

The infamous G building . . . has been reputed to commit acts of physical abuse against patients who dare to complain about the psychiatric ward’s horrid treatment. The building gained its notoriety as a place where patients are injected with drugs to keep them submissive.

The Civil Liberties Group and the Mental Hygiene Legal services in May of 2007 filed a law suit in federal court against Kings County. The suit alleges that conditions at the facility are filthy. The group asserts that patients are forced to sleep on plastic chairs or on the floor covered with blood, feces and urine as they await a bed . . . often going without basic hygiene provisions, such as showers, clean linen and clean clothes.

The suit alleges . . . Kings County Hospital lacks . . . “the minimal requirement of basic cleanliness, space, privacy, and personal hygiene that are constitutionally guaranteed even to convicted felons.”

The Hospitals Corporation took the first step in its pledge to put “additional and significant” reforms in place since Ms. Green death. After a preliminary investigation, it terminated or suspended seven employees, “including staff involved with the direct care of the patient as well as managers of security and clinical services.”

The videotape that has circulated worldwide uncovers the inhumane, barbaric, and deplorable conditions of an institution responsible for being a safe haven, where a despondent woman suffering from “agitation and psychosis” was taken against her will . . . to receive help.

“What’s happening in Kings County Hospital is an affront to human dignity,” New York Civil Liberty Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a written statement. “In 2008 in New York City, nobody should be subjected to this kind of treatment. It should not take the death of a patient to get the city to make changes that everyone knows are long overdue.”

One can only help but wonder if Ms. Green had received the proper treatment the day before in the same hospital would she be alive today.

According to Ms. Sterling, a close friend . . . Ms. Green, the mother of six children living in Jamaica, had come to this country to provide a better life for them.

Ms. Green pined for her children. She was constantly calling them and sending large barrels filled with food and gifts for the holidays.

“Esmin had grown despondent of late,” Ms. Sterling said. “She had no work, was on the verge of losing her apartment and could no longer send money home.”

People closest to Ms. Green spoke about long stretches of depression that would last for weeks. Dark days had engulfed a woman, who had no immediate family in the United States, as she struggled against hopeless financial limitations to feed her six children.

 “Whenever she was getting sick, she would not eat. She would walk back and forth on the street, or stay in her room.”

With nowhere else to turn, the church had become her family.

Ironically in the same hospital that she would later die . . . Ms. Green over the course of four years had accompanied her longtime friend and chaplain Eleanor Ramsaran, while she gave sermons in the chapel at Kings County.

Perhaps if Ms. Green would have been left alone in her apartment, during her latest bout of depression, and not taken against her will to Kings County Hospital, she would still be alive.

Then again . . . the lord works in mysterious ways.

Who would disagree that as Ms. Green writhing in pain, face-down on the waiting room floor . . . oblivious to other patients and under the surveillance of video cameras . . . that divine intervention did not use her and that moment, to depict the barbaric and inhumane conditions that have existed for quite some time in the psychiatric ward at Kings County Hospital.

Thank God for the videotape . . . it serves to remind us of Ms. Green’s plight and hopefully the image of a woman gasping for her last breath on a cold waiting room floor . . . is one that will not be so easily forgotten.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

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