Sunday, March 16, 2008


I went to the wake of Tameka today to see her husband Joseph and Tameka's very loving family. They displayed her wedding gown and wedding photos. Their young son ran around the funeral home oblivious to the pain that others held in their heart.

Tameka struggled for 11 months following a botched surgery and numerous other surgeries to repair the error. Tameka suffered from many, many infections. I have to wonder how things will ever change. How could this young, vibrant woman who had so much to live for die from something so preventable.

For eleven months this hospital became her home. Joseph spent as much time with her as humanly possible. I was privileged to be called in to help and get to know this family through Joseph's stories and memories of his wife.

In my conversation with the head of risk management a few months ago I was told that the husband isn't giving me the whole story. I never asked for stories or information. I wanted to make sure the husband had the information he wanted and his questions answered. Obviously, he had a right to be concerned. Now that Tameka is dead, I would like to tell them at the Long Island College Hospital "I told you so". But I wouldn't do that. It'S easy to find fault and demand answers following the treatment and yet another preventable death.

The Department of Health went in and found no violations. I went in and witnessed Tameka being treated by someone with no gloves and he never washed his hands. The nursing director pointed to her own photo on the wall when I asked her if she was in charge. When I asked each nurse their name, they scrambled for their name badges. One had to find it in another room. Not that any of this matters now.

I suggested that Joseph ask the doctor if we can find help for him to make better decisions. He told Joseph no, he was seeking advice from doctors within the same hospital. I reached out to the medical community for help. There was nothing they could do. Joseph was afraid to move his wife. She was too sick but that may have saved her. If she died because of the move, none of us could have lived with the guilt.

There is no easy answer. Joseph is warm, kind and a gentle soul with a lifetime of love left inside of him that he was supposed to share with his wife. Tameka, for many in that hospital she may be another statistic. But I will not soon forget her and what could have been if we were able to save her.

Joseph will go back to work in his hospital where he is employed to the loving community that surrounds and supports him. But love and caring just doesn't save lives. We have to start demanding better treatment or this will continue. We can not allow this to continue!

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