By Ronsanise Johnson, 16, Animo Locke Charter HS #3
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Ronsanise's leg is mostly healed, but she still has some nerve damage. She is glad her mom's car is fixed so they can drive to her next check-up.

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The hospital near my house was shut down in 2007 because of poor care. I didn’t know this until last year when I got hit by a car and really needed the hospital, King/Drew. Having to go farther away to treat my broken leg made things hard on me and my family.

Last December after school me and three of my friends were walking on 108th Street to catch the bus from Watts to my house in Inglewood. Near the corner of San Pedro Street, we decided to cross the street. Looking both ways, we saw that there were no cars coming. Two of my friends started crossing the street and I followed right behind them. Out of nowhere a black car came rushing down the street and hit me.

I was hit so hard that I flew several feet into the air. Coming down, the back of my head hit the windshield. I remember thinking, “Oh my god I can’t believe this is happening to me!” It hurt at first, then the pain went away. I rolled off the car and landed in the street. My body was numb and I had a nasty taste in my mouth. I looked down and saw my left leg bleeding.

The ambulance ride was taking too long

About 25 minutes later the fire department came and wrapped my leg in an inflated orange brace. After a few minutes the ambulance came. After we were driving for about 30 minutes, the siren stopped, but the lights were still on. I asked, “Why are we still driving?” The paramedic said, “We have to take you to Harbor UCLA.” I knew that hospital was in Torrance, and I didn’t understand why we had to drive all the way out there when King/Drew was less than three miles from my school. After 45 minutes, I went to sleep.

When we got to Harbor UCLA I found out that bones in my left leg were broken. I had surgery to have metal plates screwed into my knee and ankle to help my bones heal correctly. When I woke up the next day, I was in so much pain all I could do was cry.

I was in the hospital for six days. My mom was there every day. My mother’s car was broken down so she and my seven brothers and sisters had to catch the bus from Inglewood to the hospital, which was 13 miles away. It took three buses and about two hours. It would have taken two buses and half that time—about an hour—to get to King/Drew from our house.

Some days my mom had to spend the night at the hospital with me because she didn’t have enough money to take the bus home and come back. She slept in a chair that turned into a bed. One day I heard my mom on the phone saying that it’s too far to come back and forth to the hospital to sit with me. It made me feel like I was holding my mom back from doing things that she needed to do.

Illustration by Michelle Cao, 16, Temple City HS

I missed two months of school because of my leg. After I was out of the hospital I went back for check-ups every few weeks. Because it’s so far away, I had to miss a whole day of school to go to the doctor. It’s a hassle to catch three busses and wait about 30 minutes for each bus and sometimes they run slower at night. Because I usually spent three to four hours at the doctor’s office, sometimes I would have an appointment for 10 a.m. and not get home until 10 p.m.

I would’ve missed less school if King/Drew was never shut down because it was only a few miles from my school. It was hard to watch my grades drop from As to fails in some classes. I’d think, “Dang, I just got caught up and thanks to this appointment I’m a day behind.”

People got bad care at the old hospital

You might be wondering why King/Drew hospital closed. It was shut down in 2007 because patient care was so bad. After my accident I wanted to know why the hospital had closed. I read an article about an incident that happened in 2004 when a lady died on the floor of the emergency room because staff ignored her for hours. There were other problems; other people had died needlessly and the hospital failed to meet standards during inspections. What if I had gone to King/Drew and I didn’t get the care I needed?

I understand that the hospital had problems, but I wish the government would have helped King/Drew treat the patients with the right care instead of shutting it down. There needed to be better administrators to oversee the doctors and nurses. I feel that it is important for there to be a hospital closer to where I live because there are people in my neighborhood who can’t afford to go back and forth to Harbor UCLA. People in our community pay taxes and we deserve to have a hospital in the area.

I heard the hospital is going to be reopening in 2013. I think it should open sooner. Sometimes I wonder if the people in charge really care enough to open it back up. If they cared, why didn’t they fix it instead of closing it down? And why has it taken so long to reopen? If it does reopen I hope the hospital will be a better, safer place.