Being treated like a celebrity when giving birth

Celebrity is an interesting phenomenon.

On a hot summer night in 1990, my chief resident and I were on call at Harlem Hospital. We were informed that a “guest” was coming to interview us. Hot, sweaty and looking haggard rather than glamorous, we wanted to choke our director when Spike Lee walked through the door with film crew in tow. Lee was there to film the infamous movie, Mo’ Better Blues. We introduced him to our staff, he hung out with us all night and a patient allowed him to witness her delivery. Lee, dressed in paper scrubs, stared in awe as most people do when witness the miracle of birth. He graciously sent the patient a dozen roses the next day. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that one of the main character’s in the movie was named Clarke, which just happened to be the name of one of our favorites nurses on duty that night. Denzel Washington was coming the next night but I was scheduled to go on vacation and someone else got the pleasure of meeting him. But here’s where the hypocrisy begins. When it came time to film the actual delivery for the movie, our residency director (who hadn’t delivered a baby in over 20 years) pulled rank and hijacked the part. To his credit, Spike Lee paid for the patient’s delivery.

On January 7, 2012, Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, shut down its entire 4th floor, prohibited employees from using cell phones and security cameras were taped. “Ingrid Jackson,” aka Beyonce Knowles Carter was having a baby. All hands were on deck and the hospital functioned at its highest level of proficiency. Unfortunately, the same day that Blue Ivy Carter entered the world, 2 women died of maternal complications. Many more had abruptions, premature labor, shoulder dystocias and stillbirths. $1.3 million dollars bought quality care for Beyonce, something that should really be experienced by all.

While I’m ecstatic about the arrival of Blue Ivy Carter, especially since her father and I were once residents of the humble Marcy Projects; my prayer is that Lenox Hill Hospital will take their windfall profit of $1.3 million dollars and put it to good use. How about donating ultrasounds, maternal fetal consultations and (OMG), a couple of free deliveries for uninsured pregnant women? And I’m sure they won’t boot Beyonce out of the hospital one day after her C. Section.

The birth of Blue Ivy Carter, while joyful, is yet another glaring example of separate and unequal health care treatment. Congratulations Jay and B. As you bask in the glow of your daughter’s safe arrival, please take time to remember those who may not be as fortunate.

Linda Burke-Galloway is an obstetrician-gynecologist and author of The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy. She blogs at her self-titled site, Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway.

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