“A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.”
— Samuel Johnson, 18th century
Part of the doctors’ Hippocratic Oath (medical ethics) from the fifth century BCE states, “I will never do harm to anyone…[working] for the good of my patients.” Why, then, did North Memorial Hospital turn out a poor African American, 42-year-old El Daral Johnson, and send him home without the care he needed to live, resulting in his death a day later?
They knew he had been terribly injured when, with a crowd of others, he was run down by a car driven by 27-year-old ex-con Amecio N. Enge, which killed 35-year-old Maurice Meeks. As in the Bible story of the Good Samaritan, Mr. Johnson was left unattended as North Memorial medical personnel passed him by.
Samuel Johnson also said, “No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous.” Federal and state legislators and city officials have a Cadillac healthcare plan at taxpayer expense. North Memorial receives millions of taxpayer-funded federal and state grants. Mr. Johnson was one of those taxpayers.
But Mr. Johnson was poor and Black.
The Sunday, October 3 Star Tribune read, “Driver just ran people over, 1 dead.”
The driver plowed into a crowd that included, as noted, Mr. Meeks (who died on the way to the hospital) and Mr. Johnson, critically injured yet sent home despite serious injuries, where he died the next day.
It was clear we had another homicide, and that the person who caused this death was operating his vehicle with absolute rage and intent. North Memorial is just as guilty as Amecio Enge in the homicide of Mr. Johnson.
Were they operating based on uncivilized policies with non-virtuous personnel?
The Star Tribune story was comprehensive and in-depth. A number of witnesses to the group of 10 people who were plowed into by the car gave descriptive accounts of the mayhem. You could not imagine the shock and dismay that I felt after reading Wednesday’s edition of the Star Tribune, which reported that, Mr. Johnson, severely injured in that incident, had died sometime Monday night at his home.
I went back and reviewed the story of Sunday. I called the reporter who helped write the story in order to verify the Star Tribune’s report. I talked to witnesses to gain an opportunity to gauge the medical status of Mr. Johnson.
I learned that he was unresponsive, semi-conscious, and bleeding from his nose, mouth and areas of his head, and that he had broken bones and burns. According to these witnesses, he had been dragged by the car, estimated to have been traveling at least 60 miles per hour when it struck the group gathered outside the home in the 1000 block of 39th Avenue N. Mr. Johnson’s body showed the drag marks.
We have heard rumors for many years in the Black community that there are policies in place that purposefully deny adequate health care and emergency attention to people of color and poor people at our private hospitals.
Leading up to the writing of this column, we have attempted to ascertain information on the circumstances that led to Mr. Johnson being forced from the hospital and sent home. By late Wednesday, police were refusing to give information, and North Memorial has been totally uncooperative.
There is something dangerously and perilously wrong with the Black community’s relationship with Minneapolis health providers.
Unfortunately, we have no institutions or organizations willing to ask the tough questions and demand answers.
Think about it my friends: A man is sent home unresponsive, semi-conscious, bleeding from his mouth and nose and other parts of his head, with broken bones and burns, his body showing the effects of being hit and dragged by a car going in excess of 60 miles an hour. Then authorities put out the rumor that the man must have died from an overdose of drugs, as released to a Star Tribune reporter on Wednesday the 6th.
Too many questions are unanswered, and, as stated by the relatives of Mr. Meeks, the entire episode cries out for justice. We concur and call for a thorough and honest investigation into the death of African American Mr. Johnson, who should never have been released from medical care in the first place.
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.
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