Dying For Attention

Amsterdam News, News Report, Demetria Irwin Posted: Jul 13, 2008

NEW YORK -- Esmin Green was supposed to get help for her mental illness, but what she got was indifference and ineptitude from the very facility that was supposed to help her. Green, 49,died on the floor of Kings County Hospital on June 19 after being left unattended in a chair for 24 hours and callously overlooked for an hour after she collapsed to the waiting room floor.

Involuntarily admitted on June 18 for agitation and psychosis, Green spent her last day on earth sitting in waiting room chair. Video footage from the facility shows several hospital staff walking around Green as she lay dying on the ground.



A gurney and oxygen tanks finally arrived an hour after Green collapsed, but it was too late. Green was pronounced dead soon after efforts were initiated to save her. New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) released a statement about the incident. “It is clear that some of our employees failed to act based on our compassionate standards of care. Immediately after the incident was discovered on June 20 and following a preliminary investigation by HHC staff, HHC President Alan D. Aviles directed the suspension and termination of those involved.” On Tuesday, Green’s daughter, Tecia Harrison filed a $25 million lawsuit against Kings County Hospital in connection with mother’s death.

The grisly, almost unbelievable video footage of Green’s motionless body being ignored and at one point, even poked by a staff member’s foot, has been circulating on local and national media.

Seven people have been terminated or suspended as a result of the incident. Many elected officials have expressed their concern about Green’s death, including Brooklyn City Councilman Kendall Stewart. “This should never have happened. The video showed an uncaring, callous and indifferent staff that failed to intervene and offer help to this unfortunate woman.

She died like an animal on the floor of the hospital. That should never happen to anyone, and it is my hope that the hospital authorities will not only investigate this incident, but make sure that this never, ever happens again.” Green’s funeral was held on July 3 in a Brooklyn church filled with family, friends and many people who did not know Green personally. Among the mourners was her 31-year-old daughter, Tecia Harrison, who lives in Jamaica and had not seen her mother in eight years, and Pastor Marilyn Johnson, who made the initial 911 call that landed Green at Kings County Hospital on June 18.

Activists and politicians were also in attendance, including the Consul General of Jamaica, Geneive Brown Metzger, who told reporters that Green’s death would not be in vain. Green emigrated from Jamaica over 10 years ago and had worked numerous jobs over the years in order to send money to her six children who still live on her native island. Her final send-off in lace gloves and chiffon as young voices filled the church with gospel hymns was a much more dignified affair than the treacherous manner in which Green was treated in her last moments of life. The Health and Hospitals Corporation is paying for her body to be transported to her native Jamaica and buried there.

At the time of Green’s death, Kings County Hospital was already under federal investigation because of a 2007 lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and the Mental Hygiene Law Service.

The suit alleges that Kings County Hospital Center and specifically its emergency psychiatry unit are “overcrowded and often dangerously unsanitary and that patients are routinely ignored and abused.” NYCLU’s executive director, Donna Lieberman, does not mince words when speaking of the Green incident. “What’s happening in Kings County Hospital is an affront to human dignity. 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.” Kings County Hospital is the only option for most of the low income Black residents who live near the facility in communities like Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville and East New York.

After a year of litigation, but only days after the film of Green’s demise was publicly released, Kings County Hospital agreed in a court of law to numerous changes, including checking patients every 15 minutes and having no more than 25 patients at any time in the psychiatric emergency ward. Advocates involved with the lawsuit will get weekly progress reports from the facility and will assist with the search for a new deputy executive director of Kings County Hospital’s Behavioral Health department.

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User Comments


Rufus Johnson on Jul 20, 2008 at 12:42:29 said:

A search of the Salt Lake Tribune Web site last week revealed zero references to Esmin Green.

Salt Lake Tribune editor Vern Anderson had no room for a letter about it on his opinions page.

The major media, it appears, has become inditinuishable from the government in the area of indiffernce to human suffering and injustice.

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