As the Supreme Court deliberates about the fate of the Affordable Care Act, the death of 29-year-old Anna Brown reminds us why health coverage is so vital to all.
Six months ago Anna Brown, a homeless woman in St. Louis, refused to leave St. Mary’s Health Center after complaining of pain in her legs. Although she had been quickly examined by a doctor, Brown told hospital workers she couldn’t leave because she was in too much pain. After hours of asking for further treatment, hospital officials informed police of Brown’s refusal to leave, and she was dragged out of the ER.
Police accused Brown of being on drugs and hauled her to jail for trespassing. Instead of placing her on a bed, they carried her into the jail cell by her arms and ankles, and left her on the floor.
She was dead within 15 minutes.
An autopsy found no drugs in Brown’s system, but saw that she died of blood clots in her legs and lungs. Although Brown died months ago, her story was recently brought to light by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch which uncovered surveillance videos from both the hospital and jail.
Brown’s family doesn’t know who to blame for her death. Police have pointed the finger at hospital officials, and doctors at St. Mary’s are saying they followed the proper procedures.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:
St. Mary’s officials say they did all they were supposed to do for Brown. Richmond Heights police said they trusted a doctor who said she was fit for jail.
Brown’s mother, Dorothy Davis, isn’t sure what to think.
“If the police killed my daughter, I want to know,” she said. “If the hospital is at fault, I want to know. I want to be able to tell her children why their mother isn’t here.”
Davis also faults the St. Louis County Family Court, which she said forced her into a heartbreaking dilemma after the state took away Brown’s children on a claim of neglect. Davis could take in her grandchildren or her daughter, a judge said, but not both.
“I’m mad at myself because if I hadn’t listened to the courts, she would still be here,” Davis said. “If she had been here at this house, she would be here today.”
Brown’s family says she fell on hard times after her house was destroyed in a tornado in 2010, and she lost her job shortly thereafter. After child services found her and her children living in deplorable conditions, they took her children away and charged her with parental neglect.
After losing her children and city officials condemned her home, Brown’s family said she seemed to spiral downward. After refusing mental evaluations by the city for months, Brown’s mother said she may have finally been trying to get it together. Brown joined a drop-in service for the mentally ill, and her specialist said she was making progress. But sadly, she died soon after trying to put her life back together.
A change.org petition demanding health care for all has been started in memory of Anna Brown, who many feel would still be alive if she had health coverage.
The petition asks President Obama to fight for health care for all, but clearly, he can’t do it alone.