By: Bharani Padmanabhan – Jan. 2019
Everyone of a certain age instantly recalls the Kitty Genovese case, the New York Times’ now-timeless tale of city folk who ignored a murder unfolding before their eyes. Since then Saviano has reported that EMTs in Naples routinely wait in the ambulance for mob victims to die before transporting them to the hospital. We may thus be more difficult to shock, but the impression of cold uncaring city folk never goes away.
In November, Peter DeMarco published in the Boston Globe a root-cause analysis of his young wife Laura dying of asthma just outside the locked doors of Cambridge Health Alliance’s (CHA) Emergency Room in Somerville.
Laura died on September 16, 2016, while on the phone with a 911 operator. The regional 911 dispatcher called Somerville Police but neglected to mention that Laura was dying right outside the ER because she couldn’t get in. Governor Baker naturally has no comment about 911 dropping the ball.
Somerville Police immediately called the ER but a CHA nurse couldn’t be bothered to walk outside to look for Laura. NBC News played that footage.
Somerville Police and Fire proved to be the only heroes in this whole calamity. The firemen did not quit until they found Laura, right outside the ER where she said she was, and began CPR.
For 2 years CHA acted like the cold sociopathic corporation that it is and stonewalled the widower. He had no idea about the truth. CHA told him she had died on the street leading to the hospital. Then they kept his wife’s brain-dead body on a respirator in their ICU for seven days and billed for it.
Laura’s father and uncle went looking for the facts. The Police provided a comprehensive report to the family, un-redacted. DeMarco writes: “I will never forget my father-in-law’s voice, cracking apart, when he called me.
“Pete, I have the most terrible thing to tell you,” he said.
“They killed Laura.””
The Legislature has a law in place capping CHA’s damages at $100,000. Lawyers refuse to even file cases. Having the Legislature in their pocket enlivens CHA’s sense of total impunity and the attitude of the ER staff. Detective Slattery wrote in the police report: “I was standing there in full uniform and could not believe the attitude on this woman. I said, ‘Are you kidding me, the firefighters are working on someone on the sidewalk and need help and a stretcher.’”
Now readers may wonder how the Globe even published this scandal. Turns out both Laura and her husband used to write at the Globe. NBC Nightly News then reported it on their evening national broadcast. Only after NBC informed CHA that the report was coming, 2 years after Laura died, did CHA issue its very first noncommittal statement of regret. CHA had previously paid the Inspector General $90,000 to resolve the issue without admitting liability.
The widower writes “Since the publication of Laura’s story, the leaders of Cambridge Health Alliance, Somerville’s parent, have gone from a cold, corporate “no comment” to being honest and accountable, literally embracing me and apologizing for their role in Laura’s death.”
DeMarco’s compulsion to hug cold sociopathic reptiles and assume that they’ve suddenly transformed into caring warm humans (immediately after NBC News reported the scandal on national television) remains inexplicable to me.
DeMarco reports that CHA has hired Martha Coakley to write a report. I expect a “lessons learned” whitewash just like what Coakley proposed after a whistleblower reported corruption by then-Speaker DiMasi. Coakley tried hard to block Inspector General Sullivan from investigating DiMasi’s kickback scheme. CHA has hired the perfect person for an empty PR exercise.
Years ago I reported severe patient neglect at CHA to the Globe’s Joshua Miller but he refused to publish it. This scandal hammers home the fact that the only way to get the Globe to expose Cambridge Health Alliance is if the victim worked for the Globe. Another “lesson learned.”
Bharani Padmanabhan MD PhD is a neurologist who specialized in multiple sclerosis in the Boston area till the institutionally-corrupt medical board stole his license to drive him out of the marketplace. firstname.lastname@example.org ◊