Latino Groups Sue Brooklyn Hospitals

From HOY

By Jose L.Llanes

Nearly one hundred protesters gathered in Brooklyn recently to support lawsuits filed against two local hospitals by Hispanic immigrant groups.

The rally, organized by a community group called "Se Hace Camino al Andar (Making a Path by Walking)" who is also representing the victims, took place in front of the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. One of the two hospitals being sued along with Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center.

At the protest, the organization disclosed a report titled "Unequal Treatment," which contains direct testimonies of affected patients and statistics of the supposed violations at both hospitals.

"I tried to explain to them that I was about to give birth to my son, but the doctors could not understand me," said the tearful Juana Alvarez, one of the Mexican victims present at the protest. "When they figured it out my son had already fallen to the ground."

Shortly after, Juana's baby died.

Andrew Friedman, co-director of the organization, said, "one only has to walk through the hospital and speak to the people there to realize that the services are inadequate."

Within a two-month period, the group interviewed 140 patients at both facilities, "and they all say the same thing, ‘We can't speak to anyone not even a doctor,’" said Friedman, an enthusiastic 31-year-old attorney.

"We're surprised," said William Green, vice-president of Wyckoff. "At this moment we offer 15 services for Latinos, a reserve of Spanish speakers, bilingual workers and signs throughout the hospital."

The vice-president explained that before the protest he had not known of a single case of a person not receiving appropriate medical attention because of a patient's inability to speak English.

Another victim, Josefina Marin, claimed that on one occasion she had taken her son to Woodhull to have emergency X-Rays taken, but the hospital staff made them wait from 11:45 AM until midnight, without any communication or attention.

The lawsuit, presented by "Se Hace Camino al Andar" and the non-profit group New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, was filed at the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Department of Justice.

Translated from Spanish by Armando Reyes.

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