Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Sad and enraging news from Rachel Levitsky, not about the war on Iraq but rather a grave domestic injustice:

Dear Friends,

Rachel Levitsky here. I've just returned from LA where I had a reading and was with Akilah Oliver, who has just lost her son, Oluchi McDonald, a beautiful 20 year old young man, to what is apparently a flagrant failure of the health care system. Many of you may already know the details but in case not, I'm sending this out to the folks on my list who I think may want to know what's going on.

We don't know much conclusively. Even the coroner is
evasive. What we do know is that Oluchi went into one
hospital with severe cramps and was tested for
appendicitis with inconclusive results and sent to
another hospital where he was not treated and died the
next day. It seems he had a blocked colon, a condition
like appendicitis, that is easily treated surgically,
and should be easily detectable.

Many of you are wondering what can be done to address
this horror and injustice in our community. (As
though the horror of the war and the Bush
administration's push toward Fundamentalist Christian
State wasn't enough.)

Here's what we've organized so far. Akilah envisions a
three pronged approach:

1) Social Justice and Activism about the wrongs of the
health care system for poor people and people of
color. Akilah has started a group called "Somebody's
Friend" and the first action is for folks to write
letters to the people at MLK/Drew Medical Center,
where Oluchi died. Back channel me if you'd like the
doctors, nurses names and the address. Anyone who
knows activists that may be effective in LA, please
forward that information to me at this email.

2) Legal--procuring an effective malpractice legal
team, and pursuing a possible civil rights case (CA is
one of first states if not the only, to have $250,000
cap on malpractice suits, however if Oluchi was turned
away for reasons of economy or race, there is a
federal case) and

3) Spiritual--assisting and supporting Oluchi on his
journey. This includes memorials, art making,
praying, etc. Akilah will be bringing Oluchi's ashes
to Boulder, where he grew up, St Louis, where his
grandmother and extended family live, New York and LA.

There is a fourth element which is general financial
support for all these efforts. Akilah has no money,
had had a difficult time finding work in New York
where she'd been relocating before this happened--and
her unemployment had just ended. There are the fat
expenses of coroner, cremation, burial, retainer for
the lawyer, flying to the various places where Oluchi
has family and friends, staying in LA and making sure
things happen here, cell phone, mainaining apartments
and bills and the unexpected. Akilah does not have a
checking account. We are trying to figure out a way
for people who want to contribute to be able to do so
tax deductibly. Meanwhile here's how you can get money (or other things) to Akilah:

1) Immediate Use: Send money order or blank checks
(that can be used to pay bills) to Akilah Oliver, c/o
Michael Farber, 1917 Rodney Drive, #211, LA CA 90027

2) DEPOSIT for need down the line: You can write
checks to Michael Farber to the above address or to me
at my address: Rachel Levitsky 458 Lincoln Pl #4b,
Brooklyn NY 11238. We'll be establishing some sort of
account so that we can pay for things for Akilah.

3)I'll let you know what happens if we come up with a
more streamlined system.

IF I ACCIDENTALLY SENT THIS TO FOLK WHO DON'T KNOW
AKILAH, PLEASE FORGIVE,

and feel free to send this to friends I may miss or
for whom I have no contact info,

I'll be out of town again Saturday and Sunday and then more responsive to email.

Peace and

Be safe in these times and

Love,
Rachel

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