Friday, December 03, 2021

December 3: Nurses Close Door to Silence Screams

 At 11:45 am on December 1 or 2, 1977, 29-year-old Jacqueline Bailey was injected with saline by Dr. Airo Tunde Eboreime for an instillation abortion at the 22-bed Pacific Glen Hospital in Los Angeles County. She was 20 weeks pregnant. 

Five hours after Jackie expelled the dead baby, her condition appeared grave. 

Two patients who were in the same room with Jackie at Pacific Glen told investigators about what they observed. Jackie was writhing in pain, they said. She cried out for help but her cries were ignored, and somebody shut the door so that nurses wouldn't be able to hear her. 

The call button at Jackie's bed was broken, so she asked another patient to use her own call button. By the time a nurse came in, Jackie's eyes were wide open in a glassy stare.

The nurse believed that Jackie had gone into cardiac arrest and summoned an ambulance. When medics arrived at 12:47 a.m., Jackie had no vital signs. The nurse who was trying to revive Jackie was unable to say how long the patient had been unattended. 

The other patients, the medic, and Pacific Glen's own records all concurred on one thing: No physician at Pacific Glen attended to Jackie at all after the saline was injected. The first physician to see her after the abortion was initiated was one who arrived after medics had begun providing care.

The medics transported Jackie the 12 miles to Memorial Hospital of Glendale. Doctors at Memorial suspected a uterine laceration, so they performed exploratory surgery. The bleeding was so profuse that they then performed a hysterectomy in a last-ditch attempt to save her life. Jackie died at 4:25 a.m. on December 3. 

The attending physician said that he had found 3,500 to 4,000 ccs of old blood in Jackie's abdomen. The autopsy report found that Jackie's uterus had ruptured during the abortion, and that her uterine artery had been lacerated. She had bled to death from her injuries. 

Her grandmother, Hassie Holden, demanded an investigation. She told the Los Angeles Times that she didn't even get notified that Jackie was in trouble until about an hour before her death, when Eborieme called to tell her that Jackie was in serious condition from a hemorrhage. "My son was getting ready to go to the hospital when we got another call that she was dead." 

Mrs. Holden also said that Jackie's brother had mistakenly gone to Pacific Glen looking for her and got the runaround from staff. The family never found out that she had been taken to another hospital until they got the $84 ambulance bill. 

Only Jackie's common-law husband, James Walker, had even known about the abortion, which made her death come as even more of a shock to her grandmother and other family members.

Eight of nine jurors at the inquest held that Jackie died "at the hands of others, other than by accident," while the holdout held that Jackie's death had been accidental. Dr. Gerald Bernstein of Women's Hospital told the Los Angeles Times that in his opinion, "the patient did not receive appropriate medical care and this was an avoidable death." Jackie should have been taken to surgery as soon as signs of hemorrhage were detected, he said.

Due Jackie's death, as well as the 1975 death of Cheryl Tubbs, authorities announced that they would investigate how many of Pacific Glen's abortion patients were discharged home versus transported to other hospitals to be treated for complications. 

Medi-Cal patients were funneled to Pacific Glen Hospital through Pacific Glen Family Planning Clinic after referrals by social workers at the county health office. Pacific Glen performed roughly 517 abortions per month. A social worker at the office admitted that they had concerns about the care patients were getting but continued to refer them because Pacific Glen accepted Medi-Cal. 

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