Black Florida woman dies after being forced out of hospital over ‘the volume of her voice’: police
A Florida woman who had sought medical attention at a hospital for breathing difficulties died when doctors kicked her out, going so far as having police handcuff her and forcibly remove her, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
Barbara Dawson, 57, was taken to Calhoun Liberty Hospital by ambulance complaining of stomach pain on Sunday night. She was discharged by hospital staff hours later. But Dawson complained that she still wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to leave. But family members told the Democrat the nursing staff “banned” her from the hospital.
“She was causing a disturbance in the hospital with her language and the volume of her voice,” Blountstown Police Chief Mark Mallory told the paper.
Regardless, it seems clear Dawson needed to stay. Hospital staff called police in the early hours of Monday morning because she wouldn’t leave. The officer arrested her on charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing, handcuffed her and escorted her out of the facility.
At that point, Dawson wanted the hospital staff to return her oxygen mask because she felt she was having trouble breathing — but a nurse told her she was breathing fine, and denied her request. Outside the hospital, Dawson continued to plead for her oxygen and begged the police officer not to take her to jail.
As the officer opened the door to his patrol car to place her inside, Dawson collapsed.
Mallory told the Democrat the officer uncuffed her and hospital staff were summoned, where they checked her vital signs. Dawson was then re-admitted to the hospital.
“They did their best trying to save her,” said Ruth Attaway, administrator and CEO of the hospital, told the Democrat. “Our staff was very aggressive with her treatment. They did everything they could.”
Relatives of Dawson told the paper that hospital staff couldn’t find a pulse on her after she collapsed and that they didn’t begin trying to revive her until they had wheeled her inside.
Both Attaway and Dawson’s family said the woman had a fraught history with the hospital staff. The staff had called police on her in the past to get her off the property.
“If they bring her some medicine, she wants to know what it is, what it is for. They just get mad at her,” her aunt, Angela Donar told the Democrat. “If she don’t think it’s right, she’s going to tell them and they don’t like that.”
The family has hired an attorney and is preparing to file a lawsuit.
“Even the early facts should cause grave concern for her family,” Darryl Parks, of the law firm Parks and Crump, told the paper, “but also grave concern for the public.”