Barbara Dawson, age 57 of Bristol, Florida, died on December 21, 2015 after being wrongfully discharged from Calhoun Liberty Hospital. She had been seen and treated in the hospital, then discharged. However, Dawson was having trouble breathing. Instead of the emergency department re-evaluating her, they called the police to have her forcibly removed from the premises. According to the hospital spokeswoman

“While we can’t discuss her situation directly, we can say we generally only ask patients to be removed when there is a cause for concern about other patients’ care or safety.” -Ruth Attaway, CEO

This story reminds me so much of Eric Garner, the 43 year Staten Island, NY man that died at the hands of police from being put in a chokehold. In my 40 years, I have never gasped for air, thank God. I can only imagine I would be all kinds of combative if I couldn’t breathe. What a horrible way to leave here.

“I can’t breathe”

So we don’t have the right to breathe now? How disgusting! Eric Garner’s last audible words were “I can’t breathe.” Even though he was being detained for selling loose cigarettes, he didn’t have the basic right of a human, to breathe. This is an all too common epitaph for Black people. Sadly, Barbara Dawson has joined the angels with others who have been treated unfairly unto death by our justice system.

Where was Barbara Dawson’s advocate?

Her aunt was in the room with her on the fateful morning Dawson was to leave the hospital. She had been asked to take Dawson home because she had been discharged. However, Dawson knew something wasn’t right. No details have been released as to whether Ms. Dawson’s aunt was advocating for her continued care, but I can only imagine she must have. One of the things I preach here on this blog and one of the primary reasons I created this space is because patients need advocates. Learn more about why you need an advocate in this popular post.

you need an advocate

The family has hired the law firm of the notable Benjamin Crump to represent them in this egregious case. My prayers are with this family and I hope Mr. Crump and other key influencers continue advocating on her behalf, despite her passing. Things like this should not happen.

We speak her name

I don’t know how this case could have ended any differently, other than her complaint of breathing difficulty be taken seriously. But we, at the EMP speak her name. Barbara Dawson’s life mattered. She didn’t deserve to spend her last hours in handcuffs being escorted out of the very place designed to help her.

i cant breathe epitaph