Door-to-door health care, can that get ‘smart’, or are we past caring?
On occasion of World Tuberculosis Day, March 24
In 1969 the FBI special agent in San Francisco wrote Hoover that his investigation of the Black Panther Party (BPP) revealed that in his city, at least, the Panthers were primarily feeding breakfast to children.
I wish that I could have lived during the 1960′s when strong willed groups such as the Black Panthers and Young Lords took the streets in search of changing the ways all minorities were treated by the “average” American. The sad part is many of the problems that faced the ghetto back then are still imminent in still too many communities today. Thomas Beale
PALANTE: TIMELINE: 1970 YLO/YLP
JAN 8, 1970 — Police arrest 106 Young Lords and supporters at People’s Church.
MAR – MAY 1970 — Young Lords conduct door-to-door TB testing in the Bronx and El Barrio of more than 800 people; a third test positive. APR 1970 — Bronx Branch and Information Center opened on Longwood Avenue. MAY 1970 — Chicago and New York Young Lords split. New York YLO changes name to Young Lords Party and begins to publish PALANTE, a bilingual newspaper. JUN 1970 — Denise Oliver, first women, is promoted to Central Committee. JUN 17, 1970 — YLP liberates a TB x-ray truck and brings it into community. More than 770 people are tested in three days.
JUL 28, 1970 — YLP takes over Lincoln Hospital for about 12 hours and demands door-to-door preventive health services, maternal and child care, drug addition care, senior citizens’ services, grievance table, and increased minimum wage for hospital workers.
World Tuberculosis Day
This Saturday, March 24 2012 is World Tuberculosis Day. TB is, according to TB expert Jef van den Ende, a ticking timebomb, especially because of wrong intake of medication. That is, if that medication is at all available. Not everybody gets tested in the first place.
The WHO estimates that Tuberculosis (TB), “a contagious airborne disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, infects one third of the world’s population. In the European Region alone, TB causes 49 new cases and kills 7 people every hour. TB continues to pose a serious threat to individuals and public health.’”
World TB Day raises “awareness about the global epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate the disease. One-third of the world’s population is currently infected with TB. The Stop TB Partnership, a network of organizations and countries fighting TB, organizes the Day to highlight the scope of the disease and how to prevent and cure it.”
Nothing much has happened then since the Young Bloods, door-to-door TB testing in the Bronx and El Barrio of more than 800 people; and a third tested positive. In the picture below you see them doing door-to-door testing in the Lower East Side in the 70s.
Thomas Beale writes that: The Young Lords were a short-lived, yet powerful group of young political activists. The Young Lords inspired future organizations and created an ethnocentric pride among Puerto Ricans. The Young Lords also believed that all institutions in the community should be accountable to the people that they are set up to serve. The Young Lords also will be remembered for dramatic takeovers of local institutions as a way to draw attention to the neglect of local communities. Writing letters, forming groups talking about gaining freedom and rights did not get the Young Lords what they wanted.”
In The Young Lords of New York, History 394 Dr. Thomas Beal and Marcello Duranti relate how the Young Lords Party (1969 to 1974), an “ethnic group of radical intellectuals would help bring attention to the plight of the Puerto Rican community in New York City.”The Puerto Rican migrants in the 60s and 70s faced “many of the same problems as the European immigrants of the early 1900′s. The new migrants had to deal with rampant racism, poverty, deplorable living conditions, lack of access to health care, malnutrition and other problems that effected earlier immigrant populations.” There were“groups such as the Black Panthers, the Young Patriots and The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) were fighting for great causes, there was no organization representing the growing Puerto Rican population. Realizing a need for Latino consciousness in the New York City community and improvement in the conditions of the Latino status, The Young Lords New York Chapter was formed. The organization consisted primarily of young Latino people who, similar to the Black Panthers, through direct community action and education, made an impact on the conditions of the Latino community.”
The Young Lords decided on actions or “offensives”:
1. Clean ups. After“repeatedly being denied brooms by the sanitation department to clean 110th street, the Young Lords and the citizens of the El Barrio got together to rid the garbage from their communities.”They brought traffic to a stand still on 111th and 112th street.
2. Breakfast programs. The Methodist church on 111th street and Lexington Avenue turned their requests for a space to run a breakfast program down for over a month. On 28 June 1969 they Young Lords seized it, renamed it “People’s Church, and “ran breakfast programs, offered education classes, day care centers entertainment, free lead and tuberculosis tests, until the police arrested them all in 7 January 1970.
3. Health care: Thomas Beale relates: “The next target for the young lords was a building that had been condemned in the South Bronx for 25 years. This building just happened to house Lincoln Hospital, one of the worst community hospitals of that time. Since the beginning the Young Lord advocated for better health care and better testing of the community for epidemics that plagued the Ghetto. 18 July 1970, a group of about two hundred men and women gathered up from the Young Lords, The Health Revolutionary Unity Movement (HRUM), and the Think Lincoln Committee. organized and raided Lincoln hospital with the purpose of handing over control of the hospital to the people. Before raiding the hospital, they had come up with a ten-point health program. The community faced large instances of lead poison, tuberculosis, pneumonia and asthma. The deplorable living conditions and lack of heat in tenement buildings caused many of the problems faced by the people. Patients were not getting the care they needed and were kept completely misinformed, or not informed at all, by doctors.”
When they entered the building the first action they took was to hoist a Puerto Rican Flag on the Building and putting up a sign that said, “Bienvenido al hospital del pueblo”-“Welcome to The Peoples hospital. Once inside they step up stations to run test probing for lead poisoning, iron deficiency anemia, and tuberculosis. That day hundreds of people from the community gushed through the doors. After writing hundreds of un answered letters and petitioning the city for better facilities these once docile organizations teamed with the Young Lords finally took charge of their own community hospital setting up the testing they needed and day care center for the needy. All these programs were set up in a building the hospital was not using.
The Lords had held the hospital for twelve hours and treated in one day as many patients the hospital treated in weeks. The Young Lords would not leave without airing their demands the city government. Their demands included door to door health services for preventive care, sanitary control, nutrition, maternal and childcare, drug addiction care, a 24- hour a day grievance table, a senior citizen center and last but not least, a weekly minimum wage for the hospital workers. After a couple of hours the mayor’s office broke off negotiations over the demands. By the time police entered the hospital, the Lords had already received a promise from Mayor John Lindsey to construct a new hospital on 149th street. The third major offensive was successful; the people had gotten some of the changes they wanted.”
In his poem Suicide note from a Cockroach in a low income Housing Project, Pedro Pietri who after his discharge from the Army and Vietnam had affiliated himself with the Young Lords, wrote:
Ever since incinerators came
Into the life of the minority groups
In the old buildings the people
Were very close to everything they had
Food was never thrown away
But today everything is going
Into those incinerators
The last family that lived here
Took the incinerator
To get to the first floor
They do not live here anymore
Damn those low income housing projects
I’m seriously seeking
The exit to leave this eerie existence
My resistance is low and will not grow
The incinerator broke the solidarity of sharing leftovers, of deciding where to throw what out, what to keep and who would be pleased with this or that. Instead everything became meaning less, devoid of personal investments and investing in communal relationship between neighbours. The very act of taking something over got lost, and people grew more solitary. This due to the incinerator? Who could have believed the cause effect in that?
Seriously this can not be proposed. Adding new layers of deeply infested protocols and deeply soaked in money making infrastructure – service schemes – to already bad situations? Trying to rebuild communal relations and solidarity on the basis of apps on smart phones with NCF (Near Field Communication) readers, tagging the food and the bottles and all items in the living room so as to map out what gets lost in the incinerator? Somewhere, somehow and soon this will be proposed. And we better have an open source soft and hardware version ready, as I believe these are an integral part of our current agency of actions and ‘offensives’.
What is the equivalent today of liberating an X Ray truck? What is the equivalent of liberating a hospital and facilitate the testing of people who are not tested now? In Europe the new wave of TB is brought in by migrants and illegals who by definition are excluded from proper and regular healthcare.
It seems logical to set up a mailing list on anything TB that can be open source hardware detection, research into masks and filters and then rapid prototype that testing equipment.
What also becomes clear is that the inequalities in healthcare are still appalling, that people suffer utterly needlessly and 16.2 million children in the USA live in families that struggle to put food on the table every single day. They are in need of direct action breakfast programs. And hospitals, can they still be liberated?
Picture taken from http://oldnews.aadl.org/node/194233