This week a whistleblower reported that immigrants in an ICE detention center in Georgia are being “subjected to horrific conditions and treatment, including “jarring medical neglect” and a high rate of hysterectomies among women. The nurse, Dawn Wooten, has been practicing for more than 10 years, three of which she was employed at Irwin county detention center in Georgia, which is run by private corporation LaSalle Corrections. The complaint, filed on her behalf on 14 September by the human rights legal groups the Government Accountability Project and Project South, accused the center of negligence, including poor safety precautions surrounding Covid-19 and generally hazardous and unsanitary conditions. According to the new complaint, Wooten reported an alarmingly high rate of hysterectomies – a surgery in which part or all of the uterus is removed – being performed on Spanish-speaking immigrants, many of whom did not appear to understand why they had undergone the procedure. She said an off-site doctor supposedly performed the surgeries on women who complained of heavy menstrual cycles, but that many women seemed to not understand what had happened. In many cases nurses obtained consent from patients by “simply Googling Spanish”, the complaint alleges. “Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy – just about everybody,” Wooten said. “That’s his specialty, he’s the uterus collector. Everybody’s uterus cannot be that bad.”
The Guardian reports on health problems connected to exposure to smoke in California. “A month after hundreds of wildfires started spewing toxic smoke along the entire west coast, doctors are seeing the alarming health effects of air pollution piling up. In northern California’s Stanford Health Care system, hospital admissions have jumped by 12% in recent weeks, including a stunning 43% jump in cerebrovascular conditions such as strokes. In Oregon, health officials reported nearly one out of 10 people visiting the emergency room had asthma-like conditions due to the smoke. And in San Francisco, doctors had to cancel their clinics for recovering Covid-19 patients, because the air was so unhealthy that just getting to their appointments could make patients more sick. A growing body of scientific evidence paints a dire picture of the effects of wildfire smoke on the human body. Experts told the Guardian earlier this month that the smoke can have an almost immediate effect on people’s health, causing asthma, heart attacks, kidney problems and even mental health issues to surge. Now, as the west coast reckons with an unprecedented stretch of hazardous air, scientists and health experts are growing even more concerned about the immediate and long-term consequences of continuous exposure to the harmful pollution.”
This week, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced the launch of the Abundant Birth Project, which is a pilot program that will provide basic income of $1,000 per month to approximately 150 Black and Pacific Islander women during pregnancy and after giving birth.
The Guardian reports on US cities contemplating making some changes to street access, parks, and other social amenities permanent after COVID-19. “The cars that typically throng the huge highways weaving through Los Angeles are such an established part of the city’s fabric that when the coronavirus pandemic hit, their sudden absence felt bizarre to locals even eerie. But many Angelenos have now discovered a new sort of relationship with their streets. “People have felt they own their neighborhood again, they feel connected to it again,” Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles’s mayor, told the Guardian in reference to streets that have reduced traffic, or even had it closed off, as offices, retailers and restaurants shut down. Garcetti added: “People started walking in their neighborhood, biking, rollerskating. I think out of this pandemic you will see dozens of streets keeping it this way.” Los Angeles is just one of a number of US cities now plotting a comeback from the pain of the pandemic by tackling another, but longer-term, emergency – the climate crisis. By extending measures to turn streets over to pedestrians and cyclists, bolstering jobs in clean energy or building of new defenses to risks such as flooding, some US cities are attempting a “green recovery” to Covid-19. The look and feel of these urban areas is set to change. Seattle has announced 20 miles of streets will be permanently closed to cars, New Orleans is planning to pedestrianize a slice of its famous French Quarter and New Yorkers are spreading out into its streets in a wave of socially distanced alfresco dining and drinking.”