The Daily Mirror

Los Angeles history

« Previous Post | The Daily Mirror Home | Next Post »

Paul V. Coates--Confidential File

May 16, 2007 |  6:55 am

Paul_coates May 16, 1957

The story appeared in the Mirror-News about a month ago.

Venus Gonzales, 17, read it.

That evening, when her husband, Buddy, 21, came home from work, she showed it to him.

Both of them shuddered at the painful memories the story brought back.

It read:

"A 20-year-old woman filed a $1,000,000 damage suit today on grounds she lost a child in stillbirth because a hospital refused its facilities to her.

"Parkview Hospital, 1021 N. Hoover St., and the attending physician were named as defendants.

"Mrs. Roberta G. Carpenter and her husband, Wendell F. Carpenter, 25, painter of 1243 S. Mariposa Ave., charged the stillbirth occurred while the mother was being transferred from the private hospital to General Hospital.

"The couple claim services were refused them when the father was unable to raise $250 cash in order to cover increased costs of a cesarean operation.

"They stated that they had already paid $125.

"The suit says that diagnosis showed the stillbirth occurred because of an oxygen deficiency due to slow or painful birth."


Two weeks before the article appeared, on March 25, Buddy Gonzales received a call at work from his wife.

"The labor pains have started," she told him.

"It was about 10 a.m. Buddy borrowed a friend's car and rushed home.

He drove his wife immediately to the office of their family doctor--the same doctor who had been retained by Mrs. Carpenter.

After checking the young woman over, the doctor told Buddy to take her to Parkview Hospital for X-rays.

The young couple went to the hospital. The X-rays were taken. Then, they were told to go home and wait.

A few minutes after they left the hospital, Venus complained of more pain and bleeding. They returned to Parkview and she was placed in a bed.

It was about 11:30. Buddy was becoming increasingly nervous. It was his first experience at the difficult business of impending fatherhood.

And to add to his apprehension, Venus, his wife, was a delicate little girl, 3 inches under 5 feet tall--with a normal weight of 98 pounds.

While awaiting the X-ray results, Buddy returned the car he had borrowed.

Back again, he checked with the hospital desk to make sure his $100 deposit--made a month earlier--had been recorded. It had.

By noon, the X-rays had been studied and Buddy was told that a Cesarean section was necessary.

"That means," he was told, "that you'll have to pay the hospital an additional $175."

The young man winced. But he said, "I'll get it. I can get it in a week."

"I'm sorry," was the reply, "but you need cash. Now. Before we can operate."

A hospital employee called the AFL, Buddy's union, to see if he had insurance to cover an additional expense. It took a while for them to check.

Unfortunately, he didn't.

At 1 o'clock, Venus was moved into the operating room. And Buddy was making phone calls to raise $175.

He used the pay booth and called friends and relatives until $3 worth of change had dwindled to 15 cents.

No luck.

Two o'clock had passed. So had 3 o'clock.

And Venus Gonzales was still in the operating room, ready for surgery.

Shortly before 3:30, she heard a man tell the nurse:

"Take her out because they haven't got the money."

She was wheeled out and dressed again, and Buddy was told to rush her to General Hospital.

"If you want an ambulance," he was told, "it'll be $35."

He phoned his brother-in-law to hurry over with a car. Then he went to the desk again, where $75 of his $100 deposit was refunded.

"A $25 charge for X-rays."

The brother-in-law arrived and he and Buddy helped Venus to the car. They sped to General Hospital.

And there, shortly afterward, Connie Lee was born--the first heir of Buddy and Venus Gonzales.

Here, perhaps, the story should end--with the hope that it won't happen again.

But it doesn't end.

It is a continuing policy, not only of Parkview but of most private hospitals in this area.

And tomorrow we'll take a closer look at mercy--Southern California style.