A Black Life that Mattered

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Seeing this front page brought me to tears this morning.

I hold the fool in the White House responsible for the death of 32-year-old Brittany Bruner-Ringo last week.

I also hold responsible Silverado Beverly Place, the elegant residence in the La Brea area of Los Angeles for seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.  

I condemn the wealthy family of a 69-year-old New York surgeon who needed to relocate to an assisted living facility near one of his children.  

The family continued with their plan to move their father to Los Angeles, even as the covid-19 pandemic spread across the US and the world.  A daughter flew from London to New York City, went to her father’s apartment on the upper East side, and flew him to California.  How many people did she expose to the virus on this journey?

The Silverado Beverly Place made arrangements for him to enter the residence, even though “family visits had been cancelled and nonessential employees had been barred,” according to Harriet Ryan, who wrote the report in today’s LA Times that filled much of page one.

On March 19, Brittany was required to examine and admit the “prominent physician” from NYC although he showed signs of illness and the facility was on lock-down.

Brittany “told her mother, a veteran nurse in Oklahoma City, that the doctor was showing signs of illness — profuse sweating, a “productive” cough and a fever close to 103 degrees, her mother said in an interview” with the LA Times.

Silverado has released records claiming that his temperature was only 96.8 and “No cough noted, no [symptoms] of any respiratory distress.”

Brittany told her mother, also a nurse, that she had wanted to send the man to the hospital but that the administrators of the memory care facility had overruled her.

The next day, however, when she returned to work “the doctor’s condition had worsened. Medical records provided by the company indicate he was coughing up green phlegm, had a fever of 101.9 and was experiencing chills. He was taken by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

In the coming days, Brittany fell sick and by early April, she was hospitalized and put on a ventilator.  She died on April 20. 

Up to today, 63 patients and employees of Silverado Beverly Place have come down with covid and nine have died.

The 69-year-old surgeon recovered and is still living at the memory care facility.

“Black lives don’t matter,” concludes a friend of mine.  

What matters is being able to pay the price to live in a first-class residence.  The Silverado is a block away from The Grove, not far from the LA County Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits.

The residence is part of a chain of high-end memory care centers that can cost families more than $15,000 a month for luxury touches, such as gourmet food and live performances, and cutting-edge dementia treatment.

It’s a lot like the Sunrise Assisted Living chain, which owns the place in Santa Monica where my mother spent the last four years of her life.  Filling rooms is important, and the administrators of the Silverado certainly had financial reasons for admitting this man in spite of the pandemic.

Since the outbreak of covid-19 there, the 125-bed residence “has come in for heavy criticism” according to the LA Times.

Brittany’s mother, Kim Bruner-Ringo, drove from Oklahoma to be with her daughter during this illness, but she was not allowed to see her or visit her.  

“My daughter died alone,” she said.

I too have a 32-year-old daughter.  She lives in Oakland and is currently unemployed.  Losing her would be unbearable in any case, but losing her because of the poor decisions of a president, a nursing home, and a wealthy New York family would send me into a tailspin.   

The families of some Silverado residents who have died are planning lawsuits, but Brittany’s mother has no plans to sue.  She’s planning the May 2 memorial service and “learning to live without her.” 

It’s tragic.  It’s unfair.  Her birthday was March 17.

Say her name: Brittany Bruner-Ringo.

“She was just kind-hearted,” said one co-worker quoted in the article.  She spoke up “about patients who needed more attention and affection.”

Clearly she lived a life that mattered.

Reading about her on the front page of this morning’s newspaper immediately brought me to tears and kept me unable to focus on much else today.  She was just 32, a beloved daughter and sister.  

She was giving so much.  She was robbed of her life.




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