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Hospital Staff Under Fire For Cruel Treatment Of A Black Florida Woman

Barbara Dawson was treated unforgivably when she desperately needed medical aid. Now there's going to be hell to pay.

On December 21, 2015, 57 year-old Barbara Dawson sought medical attention at a Blountstown, Florida hospital. She was unable to breathe, and said so numerous times. The way she was treated at Liberty Calhoun Hospital was unimaginably cruel. When she refused to leave the hospital, when they erroneously determined she was just fine, they called the police.

...the officer goes to Dawson's hospital room and tells her she has to leave.

"If you feel like you have not been treated properly, you have to go to another facility, OK?" the officer said.

Dawson repeatedly replies, "I can't breathe," and refuses to leave the hospital. At one point, the arresting officer tells Dawson that she seems to be breathing fine.

"You're standing up here and you're talking and you're breathing," he said.

Dawson collapses besides the car, and the officer can be heard telling her that "falling down and laying down, that's not going to stop you from going to jail."

After she collapses, Dawson lies down against the police car for approximately 18 minutes while the officer and nurses check her pulse and attempt to get her into the cruiser. A doctor comes out and instructs the officer to get her on a stretcher.

Ms. Dawson was readmitted but later died from a blood clot in her lung.

Fortunately, the hospital isn't just letting this go in much the same way as a Tamir Rice tragedy. That's because the dash cam footage is devastating and the hospital CEO has no choice but to make some serious changes, the community was outraged.

Almost immediately, many observers, including the NAACP, cried foul, claiming the hospital and the BPD mishandled Dawson's treatment. Some remain skeptical as to whether her race played a role in her death. A day after she died, her family hired Tallahassee law firm Parks & Crump and state Rep. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg attorney and former local NAACP president.

Ruth Attaway, administrator and CEO of Calhoun Liberty Hospital, placed one person on unpaid administrative leave and removed two others from patient care until the hospital completes its own investigation of Dawson's death. Attaway announced the decision at a Monday news conference at the hospital, where she and the Rev. R.B. Holmes, of Tallahassee, named eight people to a hospital task force.


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Attaway did not provide the names of the three employees (at fault), but said the doctor who treated Dawson was not among them.

None of this will bring Barbara Dawson back, but it does elucidate a serious problem in American healthcare: if you aren't wealthy, you are not treated with the same consideration as someone of means.

More importantly, this tragedy highlights the problem of inequality when dealing with Black lives: they matter, they matter exactly as much as White lives. A racist society is a sick and dysfunctional society and our citizenry will suffer until this blatant injustice is eradicated. Thank goodness we have technology that provides evidence to unequivocally prove that there's institutionalized racism in every layer of our society.

If a Republican wins in 2016, society will become increasingly misanthropic, and unacceptable cruelty will become more commonplace. The Grand Old Party is not interested in helping anyone of color, women, LGBT or the indigent. As they've done for centuries, they'll justify these inhumane acts by contorting their religious doctrine to ease their consciences and dupe the rubes who fall for their malevolence.

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