The story of Esmin Green is a tale guaranteed to stir outrage in the most complacent individual’s heart. It is a horrific story of how individuals with mental illness are treated. The disability community is well aware of the public stigma and discrimination leveled at individuals with mental illness, but in this case that same lack of understanding and compassion comes from health care workers who should know better. Their actions, or lack thereof in this case, may have lead to a woman’s death.
The title of this blog post is in reference to the video itself. The version I included is from the Associated Press and clearly includes Esmin Green’s name. She is a person, not a piece of meat. However, EVERY other piece of footage that I have seen – Today Show (NBC), ABC and even other YouTube clips just refer to her as the “Mentally Ill woman Who Died on the Hospital Floor” or “Black Woman Dying While Doctors Ignore Her”. In the case of the wheelchair dumping of Brian Sterner, the video footage and numerous articles referred to the “Disabled Man Dumped by Officers” or the “Quadriplegic Dumped from Wheelchair.”
The media does a disservice to people with disabilities in reducing our identity to nothing more than a condition. It isn’t right, it makes it easy – easy to dismiss people with disabilities as being “other”. It is imperative that we as a community should demand not only our rights but demand respect. This terrible story is about a woman. Her name was Esmin Green. Grant her the dignity of her own name. It is the least we can ask for her, even in death.
Transcript forthcoming – text below
Esmin Green, 49-year-old woman who was brought to the psychiatric ward at Kings County Hospital died after collapsing in the waiting area. She was found unresponsive on the floor 45 minutes later, despite being surrounded by other people who did nothing to help her. The whole incident was caught on a hospital surveillance camera.
Ms. Green was brought to the Psychiatric Emergency Department at the hospital by EMS on the morning of June 18 suffering from agitation and psychosis. Officials say she refused medical review and was involuntarily admitted. She was in the Psychiatric ED waiting room, waiting for a bed in the inpatient unit to become available.
Early in the morning on June 19, she was found unresponsive on the floor. The video shows her falling out of the chair and onto the floor, thrashing about and kicking her legs. There were at least three other patients in the waiting area at the time, and several employees of the hospital are seen looking at her on the floor and walking away.
Her name was Esmin Green. Remember it, use it and urge others to use it.