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A Young Girl's Pain
9/18/2013 11:44:20 AM

By Barney Blakeney

The brother was red hot when he called me about his adopted daughter who had just been turned away from a local private medical facility after having been traumatized in an altercation with her boyfriend.

The teenage girl had been roughed up by her boyfriend on the way to school and felt she was injured. The cops had been called and did their job, my brother told me, but the girl sought medical attention on her own.

She didn’t have any money or insurance so the folks at the private medical care facility told her she had to come back when she got some cash. She went to her adopted dad who also was broke at the time. He sent her home with a promise that he’d make sure she saw a doctor before the day’s end.

When the brother called me he was ticked off that the folks at the medical facility sent the girl away without treatment. I mean this brother was ticked!

The medical facility promotes itself as a caring clinic where one can get the best service available, he said. His adopted daughter was in pain. How could they send a child away without treatment?

As my friend raved, a couple of things ran through my mind. First I wondered how badly hurt was the girl. I figured she couldn’t have been hurt too badly. The cops didn’t transport her to a medical facility, and instead of going to an emergency room after being refused service at the private medical facility, she went to her adopted dad.

The brother kept going on about the girl being in pain, but I was getting the feeling her pride was hurt more than anything else.

The brother charged that the medical facility should have treated the girl although she had no money or insurance. The law requires medical facilities now a days to treat individuals with life threatening injuries irrespective of their ability to pay. Patients must be stabilized before they can be sent to another facility.

That always hasn’t been the case. Back in the day when segregation still was the law of the land, white only hospitals wouldn’t treat Black patients. No matter how much blood was pouring, Black folks in Charleston knew better than to show up at old Roper where they could cook and clean, but never be treated.

Eventually a “colored” wing was established at Roper, but the Black folks’ hospital was McClennan-Banks Memorial Hospital on Courtnay Drive.

Its predecessor was the Cannon Street Hospital for Black folks established in 1897 and closed in 1959 when the new McClennan-Banks facility opened.

McClennan-Banks closed in 1976. After integration Black folks abandoned it. The white man’s hospital, I guess, was more healthy.

A sad story about medical apartheid in America is that which some think is a false rumor about Dr. Charles Drew, the Black man who researched in blood transfusions, the method for storing blood and developed the nation’s first blood banks. Drew’s research saved lives. But in those days even Black folks’ blood was segregated from white folks’ blood.

The rumor goes that Charles Drew died of injuries received in an auto accident after being refused treatment at a segregated white hospital in North Carolina.

Today there no longer is racial segregation. Class segregation is the new term. To those who say racism has been supplanted with classism, I offer that economics and class are the tool used to accommodate racism.

With those thoughts racing through my mind, I could understand my brother’s outrage, but I was more outraged that a young girl already was experiencing spousal abuse at the hands of a boyfriend and demonstrated such poor judgement as to enter a relationship with someone who would rough her up in the first place, and chose to go to her adopted dad before going to an emergency room if she indeed was seriously injured.

I figure a young lady in her late teens ought to be able to make better choices. Sure, she was traumatized, but that’s why we have to teach our kids to maintain their composure even in stressful situations.

That call reminds me there still is much that needs to be done when folks who cook and clean these private medical facilities can’t afford to be treated at them. And I’m reminded that the cycle of spousal abuse often starts early.

I hope that young girl gets some counseling and I hope our community begins to seriously address equal access to quality health care.

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