***paradise-(Part 1) -L.A. County General Hospital
by Coach Roth
L.A. County General
Alongside the L.A. River
a massive gray structure
towers above the palm trees…
Its amazing concrete tonnage
Rivaling the stone weight
of the Great Pyramid of Giza…
But the L.A. River is not the Nile,
and County General
is not the 7th Wonder of the World.
It is the busiest hospital in the country
playing host to a constant influx
of Sick and Dying Indigents,
Bullet Riddled and Knife Slashed bodies,
Gang Attacks and Heart Attacks,
But most of all…
Waddling Women with Swollen Bellies.
2400 babies a month
(most of them Hispanic)
dropped red-faced and screaming
into a bright hectic world
of poverty and broken lives,
silently wishing to be stuffed
back into the serenity and security of the womb.
Into this bee-hive of pre-natal preparation
A Mid-western Mexican on a mission…
A Latina Florence Nightengale
Swabbing, prepping, pushing, rushing
From bed to bed, gurney to gurney
Eight to a room, twenty in the wards,
Wall to wall in the halls.
Some making it to the delivery room
most of them not.
Twelve hour shifts of grueling work…
High Risk deliveries…
Draining the energy, sapping the strength…
But Maria was among her people
She ran on spirit and cultural pride.
Coach was worried...
Maria never hesitated to collar a doctor
forcing them to give nothing less
than stellar care
to the poorest of the poor.
'They're indigent not ignorant.'
'I know, but we need the money,
don't get fired.'
'I won't, as long as the doctors
treat them like people not animals.'
Then one day she said...
'Coach, I did my first catch.'
Her tiny body trembled with excitement,
her brown beautiful face
beaming with pride...
a 'catch' is a delivery
without a doctor in attendance...
'I told her to wait, but then I saw the head
coming out, what could I do? '
'We'll have to get you a catcher's mitt.'
He kissed her...pride goes both ways.
A baby came in backwards...
a breach birth in the middle of the hall...
Maria massaged the stomach
trying to turn the baby around
before the legs ripped flesh...
the patient screaming in pain...
A doctor walking away...
'Give her an epidural for the pain.'
'She's not qualified.'
'I don't care, prescribe now or I will break your arm.'
'I'll write you up for this...you'll be fired.'
'I hope you can write with your left hand,
but while your right hand still works,
order the epidural.'
The doctors at L.A. County General Hospital
were learning what Coach had known for years...
Maria was a firecracker.
(To be Cont.)