HOSPITALS: Straight Outa’ Compton, by MATT QUINN

St. John’s Regional Medical Center , Oxnard’s only hospital has filed a civil lawsuit seeking to impose an injunction against members of the Colonia Chiques gang. According to the injunction, gang members – who “frequently arrive at the hospital as victims of beatings, stabbings and shootings” could receive care at St. John’s, but fellow gang members would not be able to congregate there.

The hospital claims that the “typical gang member emergency usually results in 20 to 30 people showing up at the emergency room,” where gang members “are very loud, bang on doors, are rude to staff and disruptive, and have no regard for other patients or hospital property.” In addition, the affidavit stated that the gang members “block off the entrance to the emergency room, obstructing the passage of those who need to use it”; “intimidate anyone who wants” to enter the emergency department; and “continually try to obtain information from the emergency room personnel in a way that obstructs staff’s ability to do their job.” Gang members also are responsible for “thousands of dollars worth of vandalism” at the hospital.

While this injunction might seem like a good idea, putting it into practice might be somewhat challenging: does it apply to only Colonia Chiques gang members or does it apply to other (more or less well-behaved) gangs; short of declaring that they’re a Colonia Chiques, how does one know if someone in the E.R. waiting room is a member of that gang or not; what rights does a non-disruptive gang-member have to visit an injured family-member?….etc.

Like it or not, gang members represent part of the “community” that this hospital has a mandate to serve. Other than the vandalism (which should be addressed with better security), it sounds like, perhaps, more spacious waiting facilities and better communications – on both sides – would go a long way toward reducing problems. Too bad St. John’s isn’t seeking a constructive approach.

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