Black Milwaukee Woman Dies After Long Emergency Room Wait
Tashonna Ward went to Froedtert Hospital with tightness of breath and chest pain.
January 13, 2020 at 4:22 pm
A 25-year-old Black woman in Milwaukee reportedly waited more than two hours in the emergency room, then left the hospital to find better care and died.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tashonna Ward went to Froedtert Hospital with tightness of breath and chest pain, but her family said she was not under any monitoring while sitting in the waiting room.
Although the cause of death wasn't determined, the hospital provided a statement.
"The family is in our thoughts and has our deepest sympathy," a spokesperson said. "We cannot comment further at this time."
The 25-year-old experienced chest pains at work, so her sister drove her to the hospital on January 2, and she checked in at 4:58 p.m, the Sentinel reported.
According to the medical report, hospital staff checked Ward's heartbeat and it appeared normal. The chest x-ray, however, showed an enlarged heart. Ward was already told about her enlarged heart when her baby died during pregnancy, the medical report stated.
The family said Ward was asked to stay in the waiting room after the tests. While she waited to be seen by a doctor, Ward posted several memes, news articles and inspirational messages on Facebook. She also included updates about her experience at the hospital in between the rest of her posts.
“I really hope I’m not in this emergency room all night,” she wrote.
An hour later, the 25-year-old provided another update on social media.
"Freodert so packed it don’t make no sense," she wrote. "Damn near woulda been better off going to St Joes."
Her frustration continued with another update almost an hour later.
“Idk what they can do about the emergency system at freodert but they damn sure need to do something,” she wrote. “I been here since 4:30 something for shortness of breath, and chest pains for them to just say it’s a two to SIX hour wait to see a dr. Like that is really f**kin ridiculous.”
After leaving the hospital to find an urgent care clinic, Ward collapsed and had to be rushed back to Froedtert in an ambulance. She was pronounced dead soon after.
"How can you triage someone with shortness of breath and chest pain, and stick them in the lobby?" Ward's cousin, Andrea Ward, told the Sentinel. "Froedtert needs to change their policy."
Studies show that Black patients such as Ward aren't getting the same quality of health care as whites. According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Black patients wait for an average of 69 minutes in emergency rooms, while whites wait 53 minutes. The study adds that the wait times for Black patients is especially long when the illness isn't as severe.
"Racial disparity in ED wait times between Black and nonblack patients exists, and the size of the disparity is more pronounced as illness severity decreases," the report concludes. "We do not find a racial disparity in wait times for critically ill patients."
Tennis superstar Serena Williams provided a spotlight on health care for Black women after experiencing complications during the birth of her daughter in 2017. In an opinion piece for CNN, Williams talked about a near-death experience after giving birth to her daughter via emergency C-section in 2017.
Williams said she was lucky to have a team of professional doctors, but there are women around the world who don't have drugs, health facilities or doctors to save them.
"Every mother, everywhere, regardless of race or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth," she wrote. "Together, we can make this change. Together, we can be the change."