Beware D.C.’s ‘Impoverished and Rickety Emergency Care System’

An email today from a former DC metro reporter regarding the case of the NYT’s David Rosenbaum:

“The death of David Rosenbaum is tragic. No question. But anyone who’s reported closely on the District, as I did in 2001 at City Paper — the era of Chandra and Condit (and a score of non-white missing girls at that same time who got no coverage whatsoever) and the city’s seriously inadequate response to 9/11 — knows that this sort of snafu tangle is really par for the course in our city. But it takes the death of a beloved and prominent white journalist in a normally placid neighborhood to rip the lid off the shoddy emergency services and often-lackadaisical police work that most citizens who live here can expect if facing a similar situation.

“A lot of this came up in reporting that we did in that era on the closing of DC General, and the shifting of a lot of emergency room work to other city hospitals. This passage in the story struck me:

At the hospital, Rosenbaum was not examined for at least an hour and was left on a stretcher in a hallway, fire officials have said.

“It was Friday night at Howard’s emergency room. It would have been interesting for the Post to at least ask Howard U Hospital officals what sort of night they were having. Perhaps it was neglect. But maybe it was a multiple gunshot wound night. The point is that there may have been individuals at fault in Mr. Rosenbaum’s case, but these individuals work in an impoverished and rickety emergency care system. And that is the fault of the politicians and the people who elect them.

“The bottom line is that either way, stories such as this tragedy are not at all unusual. They are commonplace. I could have filled my section of the paper with them every week of the year. The prominence of the victim has commanded the media’s attention. Yet the risk of this happening to you is the risk that you take living anywhere in the District in 2006. It may not be the assault that kills you, but the underfunded, chaotic and woefully inadequate response to your calamity.”