East Bay Express: Fatal System Error

blogimage.jpgBooker Williams III hadn't missed a day of work for two years. So when the 34-year-old San Quentin State Prison correctional officer got a call on the morning of August 20, 2014 that his father was going to the hospital, he decided not to break his streak. Plus, his 62-year-old father, Booker Williams II, a lifelong Richmond resident, had been relatively healthy in recent years.

But when Williams III started getting more calls from family members about his father, he realized it could be serious. His aunt sounded worried. And an ambulance had taken the elder Williams to a different hospital than usual. In emergencies, Williams II, like most Richmond residents, would typically go to Doctors Medical Center (DMC) in San Pablo, a public hospital that serves West Contra Costa County. But thirteen days earlier, because of an ongoing financial crisis at the hospital, county public health officials and DMC executives had agreed to stop sending local ambulances to the facility.

For Williams II, a retired assembly line worker for mattress manufacturer Sealy, the trouble began at a routine appointment that morning at his primary physician's office in Hercules, just north of DMC. His doctor told him his breathing was off and his heart rate was well over one hundred beats per minute. "The doctor said he could have a heart attack in his office," recalled Betty Crater, Williams II's sister. He needed to get to an emergency room immediately. So they called 911 and an ambulance soon arrived.

mg_feat1_3713.jpgBut the paramedics had bad news... Read more at the Easy Bay Express.

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