In June 2008, emergency room staff at Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital Center ignored 49-year-old Esmin Green, diagnosed with schizophrenia, for more than 24 hours as she waited for treatment. Ultimately, she collapsed from a blood clot and died on the floor of the waiting room.
As a result of a lawsuit filed against the hospital, it is now mandated by consent decree and five years of monitoring by the US Department of Justice to improve conditions, including overcrowding, uncleanliness, and patient neglect.
The NYCLU, along with the U.S. Department of Justice, city agencies and lawyers in the case, will monitor the hospital to ensure reforms are occurring on schedule, the NYCLU said in a release. The agreement pertains to the hospital’s behavioral health units, its psychiatric emergency program and its extended observation unit.
U.S. District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto signed the consent decree Thursday.
Last year, the Justice Department called conditions at the hospital’s psychiatric ward "disturbing" and "highly dangerous" and said they required "immediate attention."
It said violence among patients and sexual abuse occurred at the hospital where staff failed to properly assess, diagnose, supervise, monitor, and treat its mental health patients. –LA Times
Already, the hospital has begun implementing positive changes in response to the lawsuit against it, including decreasing the average amount of time psychiatric emergency patients spend in evaluation and treatment from 25 to 9 hours, and making sure that no more than 25 patients are in the waiting room at a time (it used to be more than 50). More than 360 doctors, nurses, psychologists and social workers have also been hired.
While the previous conditions at this NYC hospital sound inexcusably poor, it’s also gratifying to see what a positive impact the justice system can have on such an institution—and on the quality of care people receive.