When Edith Isabel Rodriguez showed up in the emergency room of an inner-city hospital complaining of severe stomach pain, the staff were familiar with her.
It was at least her third visit to Los Angeles County's public Martin Luther King Junior-Harbor Hospital in as many days.
"You have already been seen, and there is nothing we can do," a nurse told her.
Minutes later, the 43-year-old mother of three collapsed on the floor screaming in pain and began vomiting blood. Employees ignored her, and soon she was dead.
Now state and federal regulators are threatening to close the hospital or pull its funding unless it can be improved, and Rodriguez has become a symbol of everything wrong with the facility derisively known as "Killer King."
After she collapsed, surveillance cameras show that Rodriguez was left on the floor.
Nurses walked past her. A janitor cleaned up around her. No one did anything until police were called to take her away. They did not get far before she went into cardiac arrest and died.
"This needs to stop," state Health Services Director Sandra Shewry said Thursday as the agency moved to revoke the hospital's license.
The hospital, formerly known as Martin Luther King Junior-Drew Medical Center, was built after the 1965 Watts riot to bring health care to poor, minority communities in south Los Angeles.
Autopsy results revealed that Rodriquez died of a perforated bowel that probably developed in the previous 24 hours, a condition that is often treatable if caught early enough.
After Rodriguez's death, federal reports showed that a multimillion-dollar rescue effort to correct the problem was failing and patients were in "immediate jeopardy." Of the 60 cases reviewed between February and June, more than a quarter received substandard care, according to the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The findings have sent county officials scrambling to improve care before a federal inspection due by Aug. 15 that could determine whether the hospital keeps its federal funding. The county might close the facility without that money.
On Friday, the county's Department of Health Services released a contingency plan to deal with the closing of hospital departments and relocating current patients if necessary.
The plan, which also lays out how the hospital could eventually be re-opened if a private partner is found, will be presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, said Bruce Chernof, director of the department.
NASA scientists on Friday presented striking early images from the picture-perfect landing of the Mars rover Perseverance, including a selfie of the six-wheeled vehicle dangling just above the surface of the Red Planet moments before touchdown. The color photograph, likely to become an instant classic among memorable images from the history of spaceflight, was snapped by a camera mounted on the rocket-powered “sky crane” descent-stage just above the rover as the car-sized space vehicle was being lowered on Thursday to Martian soil. The image was unveiled by mission managers during an online news briefing Webcast from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near
A rogue overgrown sheep found roaming through regional Australia has been shorn of his 35kg fleece — a weight even greater than that of the famous New Zealand sheep Shrek, who was captured in 2005 after six years on the loose. The merino ram, dubbed Baarack by rescuers, was discovered wandering alone with an extraordinarily overgrown wool coat, and was promptly shorn to save his life. Kyle Behrend, from the Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary, said that it appeared Baarack was “once an owned sheep” who had escaped. Merino sheep do not shed their fleece and need to be shorn at least annually, as
Three years after a deadly virus struck India’s endangered Asiatic lions in their last remaining natural habitat, conservationists are hunting for new homes to help booming prides roam free. The majestic big cats, slightly smaller than their African cousins and with a fold of skin along their bellies, were once found widely across southwest Asia. Hunting and human encroachment saw the population plunge to just 20 by 1913, and the lions are now found only in a wildlife sanctuary in India’s western Gujarat State. Following years of concerted government efforts, the lion population in Gir National Park has swelled to nearly 700, according
DMZ SWIM: Over more than three hours, South Korean surveillance cameras caught him eight times and audible alarms sounded twice, but border guards did not notice A North Korean defector wore a diving suit and fins during a daring six-hour swim around one of the world’s most fortified borders and was only caught after apparently falling asleep, a Seoul official said. South Korean forces did not spot the man’s audacious exploit, despite his appearance several times on surveillance cameras after he landed and triggered alarms, drawing heavy criticism from media and opposition lawmakers. Even after his presence was noticed, the man — who used diving gear to make his way by sea around the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean Peninsula — was not caught for another