As the Supreme Court deliberates about the fate of the Affordable Care Act, the death of 29-year-old Anna Brown reminds us why heath coverage is so vital to all.

Six months ago Anna Brown, a homeless woman in St. Louis, refused to leave St. Mary’s Health Center after complaining of pain in her legs. Although she had been quickly examined by a doctor, Brown told hospital workers she couldn’t leave because she was in too much pain. After hours of asking for further treatment, hospital officials informed police of Brown’s refusal to leave, and she was dragged out of the ER.

Police accused Brown of being on drugs and hauled her to jail for trespassing. Instead of placing her on a bed, they carried her into the jail cell by her arms and ankles, and left her on the floor.

She was dead within 15 minutes.

An autopsy found no drugs in Brown’s system, but  saw that she died of blood clots in her legs and lungs. Although Brown died months ago, her story was recently brought to light by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch which uncovered surveillance videos from both the hospital and jail.

Brown’s family doesn’t know who to blame for her death. Police have pointed the finger at hospital officials, and doctors at St. Mary’s are saying they followed the proper procedures.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:

St. Mary’s officials say they did all they were supposed to do for Brown. Richmond Heights police said they trusted a doctor who said she was fit for jail.

Brown’s mother, Dorothy Davis, isn’t sure what to think.

“If the police killed my daughter, I want to know,” she said. “If the hospital is at fault, I want to know. I want to be able to tell her children why their mother isn’t here.”

Davis also faults the St. Louis County Family Court, which she said forced her into a heartbreaking dilemma after the state took away Brown’s children on a claim of neglect. Davis could take in her grandchildren or her daughter, a judge said, but not both.

“I’m mad at myself because if I hadn’t listened to the courts, she would still be here,” Davis said. “If she had been here at this house, she would be here today.”

Brown’s family says she fell on hard times after her house was destroyed in a tornado in 2010, and she lost her job shortly thereafter. After child services found her and her children living in deplorable conditions, they took her children away and charged her with parental neglect.

After losing her children and city officials condemned her home, Brown’s family said she seemed to spiral downward. After refusing mental evaluations by the city for months, Brown’s mother said she may have  finally been trying to get it together. Brown joined a drop-in service for the mentally ill, and her specialist said she was making progress. But sadly, she died soon after trying to put her life back together.

A change.org petition demanding health care for all has been started in memory of Anna Brown, who many feel would still be alive if she had health coverage.

The petition asks President Obama to fight for health care for all, but clearly, he can’t do it alone.

Read more about Anna Brown’s heartbreaking story on the St. Luis Post-Dispatch and if you’re so moved, sign the petition.

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5 Comments

  1. Richard C Mays

    This should not have happened. The woman should not have been abandoned on the floor of a jail cell. Whe should have been examined at the hospital to determine the cause of her obvious pain and discomfort. The cause of her condition should not have been laid to a guess of drug use as the reason for her pain.

  2. The hospital is obvious to blame here for inappropriately calling the police for a person which they failed to properly diagnose. They failed to do a proper workup of her complaint of leg pain. Case closed!

  3. This was clearly a terrible tragedy that happened to a fellow American due to greedy, arrogance the thirst for power and racism. May God have mercy on St. Mary’s who do not even deserve that tittle. The police are negligent and complete idiots who can’t think for themselves and do what they are told, plus they are sexist and racist. What ever you have done to the least of these, you have done to the Lord. They will pay for their crimes against humanity! Shame shame shame on all involved.

  4. As someone who works in health care on a day to day basis, I can say that tragic situations like this does not have to happen. There are so many options that could be taken, whether it’s through preventative treatments, like the drop-in mental care she was trying to receive, health clinic screenings, and/or thorough education on the variety of health care options – things can be done, and should be encouraged. Hopefully, others will honor her life by striving for a better health care future for all.

  5. Believe it or not this could happen to anyone ! Especially those of us with Brown Skin. Having Sickle Cell
    Anemia many times I have been accused and looked at sideways when you state how much physical pain i’m in
    folks that don’t understand and don’t ask the appropriate questions of the one in pain to find out how they truly feel.
    Are many of the same ones who are supposed to give you care or facilitate care for you. Personally had a nurse
    tell me I would be alright when I told her that I couldn’t breathe and in order to get attention of my family I had to force the gurney away from the wall to get their attention GOOD THING I WAS THE ONLY GURNEY THERE THEN..
    after much detailed exams found both of my lungs where full of BLOOD CLOTS!!
    ALWAYS, ALWAYS HAVE SOMEONE CLOSE TO YOU WHO CAN SPEAK IN YOUR BEHALF FAMILY OR FRIEND
    WHEN YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL JUST IN CASE YOU CANNOT SPEAK FOR YOURSELF! TREAT YOUR
    FRIEND/NEIGHBOR AS YOU WOULD YOURSELF DOESN’T COST US TO EXTEND COMMON COURTESY
    TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING! JUST DO RIGHT PEOPLE.

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