'His name is James': Family protests hospital's treatment of 'John Doe'

The Detroit News

Dearborn — The family of a crash victim demonstrated at a hospital Saturday after staffers took two days to confirm he was there.

Fifteen relatives and friends of the late James White, 66, of Detroit carried signs during the protest at Beaumont Hospital Dearborn.

After White was taken to the hospital after a car wreck Aug. 20, a hospital worker told the family they had no record of him or a John Doe, said the family.

The family learned from another medical facility two days later that White was at Beaumont. When relatives arrived, he was being placed on life support.

White died on Aug. 27.

"We're outraged," said Samantha Green, a family friend. "Did he mean so little that you don't know who he is?"

The demonstrators wore T-shirts that said "His name is James," and carried signs with slogans like "Black Lives Don't Matter at Beaumont."

The hospital said through a statement that, when it deals with patients facing life-threatening conditions, it immediately focuses on medical care and deals with their registration later.

James White's daughter, Chanelle White, left, 27, and her aunt Mary Murray, both of Inkster, stand with Chanelle's brother, Joseph White, center, 25, of Wayne, as he holds a picture of their father, James White.

"The process to connect this patient with his family took longer than we desire, and we apologize for the stress this created," said the statement.

In another statement sent to The News on Saturday night, Beaumont said White "received immediate medical attention when he arrived at our hospital, but we have contacted his family to apologize for the identification delay issues that occurred.

"We are sincerely sorry and have already taken steps to prevent something like this from happening again."

The hospital didn't specify what the steps were.

"Our goal is to provide exceptional patient and family centered care every day," Beaumont said in the statement. "In this situation, we did not meet the needs of our patient or his family. We are committed to doing better."

The incident began Aug. 20 when White suffered a stroke while driving, said his family. His car struck the rear of another vehicle in Lincoln Park.

When White didn't show up for bowling, his worried friends contacted the family.

The family talked to Lincoln Park police, who said White was taken by ambulance to Beaumont Hospital Dearborn.

But the hospital told the family it had no record of him.

It was only after the family was called by Henry Ford Hospital, where White had been a dialysis patient, that the family confirmed that he was being treated at Beaumont.

Paige White, center, marches with her mother, Martha Chambers, left, sister Chanelle White, brother, Joseph White and Pastor K.C. Pierce, III, in front of Beaumont Hospital on Oakwood. Pierce is pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church and chairman of religious affairs for the NAACP-Detroit Branch.

It wasn't clear how Henry Ford learned White was at Beaumont.

White's daughter, Paige White, said the mix-up never should have happened because he had several forms of identification on him.

White had an insurance card, business cards and a copy of the traffic ticket from the accident, and was wearing a medical ID bracelet, she said.

"I'm extremely angry," said Paige White. "I can't even guess what happened because we don't have the answers."

She said the family and friends were holding the protest so this type of thing doesn't happen to anyone else.