The helping hand Esmin Green didn’t get in life from New York City, she’ll be getting in death.Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday that the city would pick up the funeral expenses of the 49-year-old Brooklynite, who was left to die on the waiting-room floor of Kings County Hospital’s psychiatric emergency room on June 19.
The mayor also said developer Forest City Ratner had agreed to pay to fly Green’s relatives here from Jamaica and back, and to fly the body there.
What’s the Forest City and/or Ratner connection? I can’t say definitively – I couldn’t find a statement from the company (Forest City Ratner is the NY branch of Forest City) but here’s an article, “New Health Care Facilities Planned in NY,” from less than two weeks ago that outlines, then details myriad construction projects connected to health care service in NYC. One of the projects is being constructed by Forest City Ratner:
Construction is under way at Forest City Ratner and architect Frank Gehry’s new 76-story mixed-use residential tower at 8 Spruce St., on a former parking lot owned by New York Downtown Hospital. When completed, the 1.1 million-square-foot tower will house 903 market-rate apartments, a 100,000-square-foot public school, 13,000 square feet of retail, 26,000 square feet of below-grade parking for 175 cars, and a much-needed health care component – a 21,000-square-foot ambulatory care center to be used as doctors’ offices to service the business and residential community. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2010.
Hopefully, a statement from the company will be forthcoming as to what moved them to make this gesture.If you are not familiar with the case of Esmin Green, you may be sorry that you now are, because, in a world of tragic stories, this one is beyond the pale, even as it is being considered to be less surprising than we might imagine. My blogging friend and health care maven, Catherine Morgan, wrote an excellent post about the case here. She links to the video of Ms. Green falling out of her waiting room chair and being ignored, then kicked to see if alive and then tended to. This Gothamist post provides additional video coverage.
On a related tangent, some people are up in arms over and other people are poopooing the significance of Barack Obama’s reference to mental distress as not rising to the level of physical health exceptions for late term abortions. Even if that position is tenable, the fact remains: the downgrading of the seriousness of mental health issues continues to lead to second citizen or less treatment and attention, whether we’re talking reproductive rights, gun rights or veterans.
Add to the list of “national discussions” that we must have, like racism (I second, third and fourth the references in the links I’ve used in this post that connect how, as a woman, a black woman, a poor black woman and a mentally in need of help poor black woman, we utterly, completely and shamelessly failed Esmin Green, as well as others like her, daily) and sexism, and add mental health.
Update: Looks like I’m not the only one wondering why Forest City Ratner would be involved in covering costs.
Also, the Jamaica Observer has a lengthy piece on the people whose lives intertwined with Esmin Green.