Monday, December 17, 2007

Joe Arvizu Died Due To Institutional Racism

photo Armando Olea

Emergency Care, Si. Recovery Care, Drop Dead, Wetback.

Everyone involved denies it was racism.

How can anyone blame Nuns doing God's work for killing this boy, Joe Arvizu on the basis of race?

The nuns (and doctors and nurses) saved his life when he came into St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix on October 19 with bleeding in his brain after bumping his head messing around at church. Two days later, they discovered he had leukemia.

And on the seventh day, the nuns packed his poor brown undocumented ass in an ambulance and shipped him to Mexico. Where he died when his mother couldn't provide a blood transfusion. Game. Set. Match.

One to seven brown kids a week get shipped to Mexico. Undocumented. Poor.

Arizona Republic

"They said they knew that we couldn't pay the bill, so they couldn't continue with the treatment anymore," Rosa said, through a translator. "I asked for a payment negotiation, but they said that no, we couldn't make it with the income we have. I didn't want to make any decision by myself, but they told me the ambulance was ready."

Over his mother's objections, Joe was taken first to a hospital in Agua Prieta, then transferred to one in Hermosillo. His mother followed the next day while his father, a bricklayer, stayed behind with their other children.

Joe died on Dec. 3. Rosa couldn't supply the hospital with blood for a needed transfusion.

His death has shocked this central Phoenix community, where teachers, students and parents are asking why one of our leading hospitals - and a Catholic one, at that - dumped a boy whose only goal was to join the Army.

"This is an absolute community disgrace," said Sue Stodola, a North parent. "And my question is, is this what it's come to?"

Sister Margaret McBride, vice president of St. Joseph's Mission Services, said the hospital's charity committee reviewed Joe's case but decided he could get treatment in Mexico.

While Medicaid picked up the cost of his emergency care, there was no one to pay the rest of the tab. He wasn't well enough to be sent home, and McBride said there were no skilled nursing or rehab facilities in Arizona that would have taken him, no one who would have offered to treat an illegal immigrant with no money.
Racism? Oh, of course not.

The hospital simply can't afford to support everyone past the emergency phase, and they already lose $17 million a year over and above what the government will reimburse (as do most hospitals; it's a condition of having a hospital license.) Choices have to be made. Priorities have to be set. It isn't (gasp) racism!

EVERYONE is claiming this isn't about race or his undocumented status. It's about money.


If Joe Arvizu'd simply been poor but with papers, he'd be alive today. Why? Because the hospital couldn't have shipped a U.S. citizen to freaking MEXICO, a goddamned third-world country when it comes to medical care. Joe Arvizu died because the hospital made a racist choice...

He has no papers -- dump him.

So a kid, 16 year-old Joe Arvizu died.

Because of a choice the nuns made -- send this kid to Mexico and hope for the best. But no matter what happens, we wash our hands of his blood. We simply can't "afford" to treat him.

Except it isn't true they couldn't afford to treat him. They chose not to treat him. Because if they were truly dealing with what they could and couldn't afford, they'd have done it fairly, without taking documented and undocumented status into account. Everyone who was poor would have had a fair shake at their resource pool, instead of just dooming the poor undocumented kids to shitty medical care. Because that is racism, plain and simple.

It's too much to expect for the Prosecutor in Maricopa "Let's Drive Out the Illegals" County to return an indictment of contributory negligent manslaughter against the Nuns... but wouldn't that be swell?

The mother says she isn't angry at St. Joe's. I'm sorry for her loss and glad she's finding some kind of piece.

I'm pissed as hell. Goddamn racist nuns.