The mistreatment of Black women by the healthcare industry is both blatant and frightening. A lawsuit against Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center over a mother dying while giving childbirth has amplified Black women’s voices as they continue to call out hospitals for their incompetent policies and practices, ultimately forcing them to seek other options as it pertains to giving birth.
Charles Johnson, the son of Judge Glenda Hatchett – widely known as Judge Hatchett – is suing Cedars-Sinai Hospital after his wife, Kira, died during a Cesarean section three years ago. Johnson said he sat by his wife’s side as his concerns began to mount after what was supposed to be a routine C-section took a turn.
“I can see the Foley catheter coming from Kira’s bedside begin to turn pink with blood,” Johnson said, according to a report from WAVE3. “I just held her by her hands and said, ‘Please, look, my wife isn’t doing well.’ This woman looked me directly in my eyes and said, ‘Sir, your wife just isn’t a priority right now.’”
Johnson said he was repeatedly ignored by hospital staff, while his wife’s health began to decline. “When they took Kira back to surgery and he opened her up, there were 3 and a half liters of blood in her abdomen from where she’d been allowed to bleed internally for almost 10 hours. Her heart stopped immediately,” he said.
Johnson — who is “pushing for policy changes, raising awareness and trying to hold doctors and hospitals accountable” — is suing Cedars-Sinai Hospital for his wife’s death, according to the outlet. The hospital has not specifically addressed the lawsuit due to privacy laws but stated that “any situation where there are concerns about a patient’s medical care” is investigated.
According to a report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are “three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women,” further calling attention to changes that need to be made within the healthcare industry.
However, Black women are reluctant to put their lives and their child’s lives in the hands of hospitals, as well as doctors, who do not look like them. Johnson’s lawsuit against Cedars-Sinai has sparked a conversation on social media about the fear that dealing with hospitals evokes in Black women.
“Am I the only black woman scared to have children because of the way black women are treated in hospitals??? Am I the only one ?” one woman tweeted.
Another said, “Absolutely not! I encourage EVERY black woman to get a black doula or midwife. We need people who are knowledgeable about child birth, things that are normal and abnormal to advocate for us! S/O to my doula! Not only did she ease my fears but she was an awesome advocate for me!”
The loss of Charles Johnson’s wife highlights the current maternal health crisis that is disproportionately affecting Black mothers and families. Sen. Kamala Harris, who reintroduced her Maternal CARE Act in 2019, held a roundtable on Black maternal health on Tuesday calling for 2020 presidential candidates to prioritize the issue, according to The Huffington Post.
“I strongly believe it should not be incumbent on a Black woman to talk about Black women’s issues,” Harris said. “If you want to be a leader in any field, much less president of the United States, [Black maternal health] should be one of your issues. It should be a priority issue, you should know about it, you should understand it and you should be committed to dealing with it.”
She added, “And certainly that was a voice that I would bring to the debate stage when I was in the race. And I hold everyone accountable, regardless of their gender, of their race, for creating priorities around this.”
Harris’ Maternal CARE Act would allocate funds to medical schools and health programs allowing them to implement “implicit bias trainings.” It will also provide grants to states enabling them to administer “culturally competent medical home programs for at-risk pregnancies,” according to the report.
Calls for changes are being made, with hopes that actions will follow.
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