The Lonesome Death of Anna Brown
Anna Brown needed help, but she was arrested and jailed instead.
The lonesome death of Anna Brown
In the summer of 2010, when a tornado ripped through her home and destroyed it, Anna Brown, 29, a single mother of three, became homeless, and after losing her job at a sandwich shop, the authorities took her kids away from her. Anna's mother, Dorothy Davis, was given a choice. Due to bureaucratic rules unfathomable, Ms. Davis could either take in Anna's kids or Anna, but not Anna's kids and Anna.
In the third week of September, 2011, Anna sprained her ankle, and on September 20th she went to St. Louis University Hospital for treatment. X-rays turned out negative, she was given a few painkillers and sent away. Brown was not satisfied, however, and sensed something more serious was wrong with her, so she re-entered the hospital and refused to leave. That's when police were called by hospital security. Brown, in a wheelchair because she was unable to move her legs, slid off the chair to the floor and rowed herself next door to a children's hospital, begging for treatment there, but they said they were unable to help her because they are an exclusively children's facility. Refusing to return to SLU, an ambulance then took Ms. Brown to St. Mary's Hospital, whose mission statement claims it to be a hospital "for people who are materially poor and vulnerable." There, an ultrasound was performed, and the hospital said it showed no blood clots or abnormalities. She was then given a list of homeless shelters and told to leave. Brown, unable to walk and complaining now of chest and abdominal pain refused to leave, and police were called. When they arrived she was arrested and charged with trespassing.
Arriving at the jail, Brown said she couldn't move her legs, so the cops dragged her to a cell and deposited her on the floor, not bothering to lay her on the cell's bed (see photo below).
Fifteen minutes later Anna Brown was no longer breathing. Paramedics arrived and were unable to revive her, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. The autopsy revealed that she died from blood clots in her legs that ultimately lodged in her lungs.
More Anna's in the future?
This tragic story reveals the state of medical care in this country, the richest in the world, where indigent people are unable to attain even the most rudimentary health services. Now, Barack Obama's health care legislation is before the United States Supreme Court, which may strike down even its lukewarm provisions to provide better services to all the people. If they do so then we can expect many more repetitions of the experience of Anna Brown.