As the Supreme Court deliberates about the fate of the Affordable Care Act, the death of 29-year-old Anna Brown reminds us why health coverage is so vital to all.

Six months ago Anna Brown, a homeless woman in St. Louis, refused to leave St. Mary’s Health Center after complaining of pain in her legs. Although she had been quickly examined by a doctor, Brown told hospital workers she couldn’t leave because she was in too much pain. After hours of asking for further treatment, hospital officials informed police of Brown’s refusal to leave, and she was dragged out of the ER.

Police accused Brown of being on drugs and hauled her to jail for trespassing. Instead of placing her on a bed, they carried her into the jail cell by her arms and ankles, and left her on the floor.

She was dead within 15 minutes.

An autopsy found no drugs in Brown’s system, but  saw that she died of blood clots in her legs and lungs. Although Brown died months ago, her story was recently brought to light by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch which uncovered surveillance videos from both the hospital and jail.

Brown’s family doesn’t know who to blame for her death. Police have pointed the finger at hospital officials, and doctors at St. Mary’s are saying they followed the proper procedures.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:

St. Mary’s officials say they did all they were supposed to do for Brown. Richmond Heights police said they trusted a doctor who said she was fit for jail.

Brown’s mother, Dorothy Davis, isn’t sure what to think.

“If the police killed my daughter, I want to know,” she said. “If the hospital is at fault, I want to know. I want to be able to tell her children why their mother isn’t here.”

Davis also faults the St. Louis County Family Court, which she said forced her into a heartbreaking dilemma after the state took away Brown’s children on a claim of neglect. Davis could take in her grandchildren or her daughter, a judge said, but not both.

“I’m mad at myself because if I hadn’t listened to the courts, she would still be here,” Davis said. “If she had been here at this house, she would be here today.”

Brown’s family says she fell on hard times after her house was destroyed in a tornado in 2010, and she lost her job shortly thereafter. After child services found her and her children living in deplorable conditions, they took her children away and charged her with parental neglect.

After losing her children and city officials condemned her home, Brown’s family said she seemed to spiral downward. After refusing mental evaluations by the city for months, Brown’s mother said she may have  finally been trying to get it together. Brown joined a drop-in service for the mentally ill, and her specialist said she was making progress. But sadly, she died soon after trying to put her life back together.

A petition demanding health care for all has been started in memory of Anna Brown, who many feel would still be alive if she had health coverage.

The petition asks President Obama to fight for health care for all, but clearly, he can’t do it alone.

Read more about Anna Brown’s heartbreaking story on the St. Luis Post-Dispatch and if you’re so moved, sign the petition.

  • Guulo

    Oh God :(

  • Kai

    Thats so so so sad


    This is a damn shame. the hospital says they did what they were supposed to do.They didnt do what they should’ve done. People shouldnt not be denied medical attention especially since she was pleading for help.

  • Perverted Alchemist

    Sadly, this video of her reminds me of the hospital scene at the end of Michael Moore’s film “Sicko”. This is really heartbreaking to watch.

  • Mimi

    Not only is this a case for health care, its also a case for affordable housing. How sad is it that this woman had so much pain in her legs that they had to “drag” her out of the hospital?!!

    I hope Grandma lawyers up!

  • A.

    I’m sorry, but if this woman had blood clots that ran all the way from her legs to her lungs and doctors claim they found nothing someone CLEARLY wasn’t doing their job. Even if she didn’t have insurance, this has discrimination, malpractice and negligence written all over it.

  • Dalili

    How awful! Broke my heart to watch.

  • binks

    I couldn’t watch the video this is so sad…

  • The Taker

    Hmph…. Yet all the looney ass congressmen majority whom are republican, care about is trying to cease women’s birth control rights and banning gay marriage. People are dying because hospitals refuse to treat the patients if they don’t have health insurance. Sad.

  • kai

    Do not let the buffoons running for candidacy steer you away from real problems.

    I cannot believe how many Black Christians want to vote Republican just because of their anti-choice stance. Open your eyes to the bigger issues at hand!!! They want to prevent people from having what should be basic rights in this “First World” country!

  • Sindy

    Sorry but health coverage won’t solve everything. Most drs aren’t as diligent as they once were.

    My mother is with a major healthcare insurance system now and they have provided less-than-stellar service when it comes to her bi-polar disorder for many years now. I had the same coverage and now find it fortunate that I never got caught up even though I got “invites” to return, despite no longer being employed.

    While doctors cannot be everywhere, they can take a closer look at signs, especially if someone has erratic behavior as it seems this woman did.

    I’ve worked with the homeless as well and you really cannot dismiss them when they tell you something. If she’s never had drugs in her system, then they should have taken time to find out why she couldn’t walk.

    There are many who think of a hospital as a place to stay and many facilities are way understaffed, it sounds like her family may have a lawsuit on their hands.

  • Candy 1

    This is so sad. How could they miss blood clots? Then they turned her away and sent her to be dragged away by the police, and she clearly needed more help. That just goes to show how true it is that being a black American makes it more likely that you’ll receive lower quality health care than white Americans.

  • Sue

    This was so sad to watch. I’m not a doctor but sometimes things can be missed. However, I think her status as a homeless person may have affected the way she was treated. Maybe they thought she wants a free bed for the night or like they say that she was on drugs. If she had been an insured person with a stable background doctors would not have dismissed her. Someone would have explored more options to try and figure out why she couldn’t walk.

  • Queen Ki

    That is RIDICULOUS and SAD! I’m over here trying so hard not cry….I can’t believe they all treated this woman in such a way! I SWEAR, I’m tempted to play the race card….and I think I will.

    This issue goes above and beyond someone not having the healthcare coverage he or she needs. I’m am 10000% sure that if Anna Brown was some little helpless white woman with pain in her legs, she’d have been catered to as soon as she opened her mouth to tell the doctors what’s wrong. I’m saying this because I know from personal experience…these cops, these doctors…I swear, it’s not all of them, but a fair number of them are crooked as hell in this way.

    If Anna Brown was WHITE or even any other race besides BLACK, the doctors would’ve given her a more THOROUGH examination, would’ve found the actual trouble and would’ve kept her all safe in a hopsital bed for immediate treatment.

    None of the hospital staff stopped the cops from manhandling her–that’s ridiculous! Then the fact that these were white cops doesn’t help this already ugly picture look any better.

  • Velma

    In the late 80′s I worked as a unit secretary at Cedar Sinai med ctr in L.A….and the practice back then was to make sure the patient was “medically cleared” to be removed from the e.r. for various reasons—namely LIABILITY. It seems to me that the physician that saw her wasn’t thinking correctly. Liability was written all over this…and had a thorough examination been completed on Anna, the clots may have been found. They probably thought she was “drug seeking” with possibly no insurance and didn’t really try any course of attention to her pain.
    I smell a law suit and if they are smart they will include everyone from the e.r doc, hospital, police dept and the city (who pays the police dept).

  • Bee

    Dear Clutch,

    I don’t know if you all knew of this story before I posted it in a comment on that Trayvon Martin-Rekia Boyd post a couple of days ago. (Maybe you all first saw it in that comment.) I AM SO HAPPY THAT YOU ALL POSTED ABOUT THIS CASE. We need to be talking about this case. It is perhaps the most upsetting story I’ve read/heard yet. Thank you! Please keep updating us on this as well, and I will do my best also to keep Clutch updated whenever I find more info about this case.

  • isola

    This is just as alarming as Trayvon Martin’s death.

  • apple

    this is why we need universal health care but that idea has been shut down since roosevelt introduced it a day or two before his death.
    my mom had a friend, who had cancer, benefits ended for two weeks so she figured she’d be fine …she died a week before her benefits kicked in. her funeral was the day her benefits kicked in.

  • The AntiFash

    There is little to no value on black life in this country as evidenced by Anna Brown, Trayvon Martin, and even this ridiculous uproar over the young black actress in The Hunger Games (See–>

    I am so saddened by this story. Although I hate to bring up race, it’s hard not to think about it when ish like the above and countless other incidents that occur in our everyday lives.

  • Ms. Information

    This has to do with bad medical care, not health care…hospitals write most of expenses of through charity care (speaking from experience as a director of in finance at a hospital)..and what that doesnt pick up, Medicaid does..she was homeless and unemployed, she qualified for programs…my problem is with the way she was treated.

  • haffie

    Sad story it broke my heart. I always said that here in France we have it good. When I was in the Us last year i was sick and needed help doctors there told me to go home because they could not do anything for me. I didn’t have insurance so they gave me some pills or the pain. A week later I was on my way to my country, saw a doctor got and had my surgery. I spend 2 weeks in the hospital and my doctors said you will not live the hospital until you are better. It was rough but I got better after a few months. I spend 2 weeks and did not spend a dime out of my pocket. The French gvt paid for everything, even for my nurse . Oh boy I am glad I was born there. I have universal health care.In the Us I would have to die before I see a doctor, or go into debt what a shame. All those Americans with jobs but they can’t afford healthcare. I love France, I love our benefits, i am not saying its perfect but one thing for sure this woman would still be alive if she were living there.

  • Meme

    Wow people are so wicked in this word, I can believe a doctor can act like this to another human; he is a evil doctor. Also how can this officers just take her to jail while she is crying about pain in her legs. I thought they are suppose to be a pace maker not the one that cause the problem. The evil doctor and these wicked officers has just left these children without a mother. I think the only reason why these officer and the doctor didn’t attend to her is because is black. Because from watching this video, she is harmless, she is not causing any problem for them to say. I hope her mother get good lawyer for the police department and the hospital. Just watching this video make me cry, because this woman was pleading for her life but they didn’t help her. May her soul rest in peace…

  • entro

    We live in a society where people would rather pay for taking a life than saving one.Trillions spent on an unjust war rather than healthcare for those that cant afford it.Politicians that are elected to carry out the will of the people but instead look out for their own. Doctors that pledge to heal but are neglectful or indifferent.People that are so willing to call the truth a lie. More and more the world seems to be upside down. God help and have mercy on us all

  • Tonton Michel

    Healthcare is was the least of this poor lady’s problems, she was screwed over way before that.

  • Yeahright2011

    Well, MOM, why was she homeless?

  • Ms. Information

    read the article, the court took her children away and made a stipulation that her mom could either take her or the children.

  • Myisha of Pink Panties & Leopard Lipstick

    This is just sad! They really jus don’t care… if you can’t pay, you can’t stay. Smh… These ppl will never care until they’re put in the same position.


    That video was awful to watch. What the hospital did and the PD was deplorable. That would not should have died. Why didn’t the hospital keep her and really gave her a full examination. Sue the PD, Hospital and doctor who said it was ok to release her for jail. Also, sue the cops who were rude to Ms. Anna in their police car. Just sad!!!!

  • mamareese

    Wow this is so sad. Alot of states have employeement services that will get you health coverage….but you have to be willing to be deep into the “system”. They go after baby daddy’s, make you take food stamps and the whole 9.

  • Xina the Awesome

    She had healthcare. She had GOVERNMENT healthcare. She had MEDICAID.
    If anything this is emostrative of why we DON’T want the government involved in our healthcare. Get a clue.

  • MsQuita

    I read this story on FB and is sickens me. No one wants the blame but that lady died and she didn’t have to.

  • Leelee

    I have to agree. I don’t think this was really about health care. She was checked out. Tests had to be run. She knew where she was hurting at so they had to have looked there. Yet the found nothing…suspect. Bloods clots aren’t easy to miss. Additionally, they implied she was on drugs and she wasn’t. Drugs should have shown up in the tests ran before she left the hospital. They knew she wasn’t on drugs. This is suspect.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    The tornado that destroyed her home didn’t kill her, the depression didn’t kill her, the removal of her children didn’t kill her.

    She survived natural and personal disaster but couldn’t survive the man made disaster this system inflicts on blacks.

    The only salvation we have is when the entirity of the poverty stricken masses around the world -

    RISE UP.

    to get this beast of our backs.

  • WhoaThere007

    This isn’t an issue of healthcare, it is an issue of stereotypes and being lazy. Whenever someone has government provided healthcare, it is assumed the person is poor, helpless and a parasite of society. Despite what you think, that individual has to be cared for. Anna Brown knew where she was hurting and she shouldn’t have been released from medical care. Her death is the responsibility of the hospital. If they did their job, this wouldn’t have happened. The police are to blame as well. They assumed she was on drugs, instead of investigating the real issue.

  • CurlySue

    This is such a sad story all the way around. I was reading on MSNBC and a commenter brought up a good point. With all the services available to help those after a natural disaster and those living in abject poverty (FEMA, food stamps, welfare, etc), I wonder why the situation had to become so dire. I wonder if perhaps her mental illness was very progressed. Also, I wonder why her mother didn’t take her or the kids in sooner before CPS became involved. What makes this so tragic is that this was all avoidable. I feel for those children.

  • Bridget

    Everybody who was involved at the hospital and the police dept have blood on their hands; I wouldn’t treat a dog this way. The hospital said that they did all they were supposed to do for Brown, but evidently not all they could do;there’s a big difference.

  • daff


  • Steven Fletcher

    While I agree that everyone should have health insurance, I don’t think she would be any less dead if she had it.

    I’ve had health insurance and been ignored by doctors before.

  • example

    She had health insurance.

  • Sweetpisces

    Let’s keep it real. Health care wasn’t the only issue here, if it was at all, i think discrimination played its part as well.

  • Tony Johnson

    If the doctor said that she was well enough to be locked up and that decision was wrong. Then that doctor and the hospital should be liable. It shouldn’t matter if they followed their so-called “procedures” Those “procedures” were not enough to diagnose her properly. Health insurance would not have made any difference if the doctors did not diagnose the condition. Frankly, I don’t think they wanted to do a good job either

  • Honey B. Mommy to Be

    Point blank period the hospital did not want to care for her as they should because she was an uninsured black woman, and the police treated her the way the did because she was a black woman. That’s just what it is and what it always will be. But for her to be laying six feet under because of people who bleed cry and sweat just as she once did, but who still tend to deem themselves “better” for whatever reason is ridiculous. This is everyones fault, from the government, down to the officer who took his keys and locked the door to her cell. The doctor saw nothing because he did not want to. For all we know he probably went on his lunch break when going to get results from whatever tests they took on her. I didn’t even watch the video, because I know I will cry and just get pissed especially in my condition. This world is at an all time low.

  • Mack Holman Springfield, IL

    Absolutely the hospital corporation is at fault for for the protocal; the doctor at fault for being incompetent; police department at fault for invading as if they are trained in the medical field with knowledge thereof and should had left her there at the hospital…PERIOD

  • entro

    What’s the alternative for people that cant afford healthcare? Private insurance companies are deciding who gets treatment and for how long. This is not an indictment on govt healthcare but it is an indictment of the doctor that examined her and his neglect

  • Pingback: “There’s a war going on outside:” Health Care and Women of Color (part 1) | The Feminist Wire

  • Susan Marie Kovalinsky

    When you say , “that is just what it is, and what it will always be”, I sure hope you are wrong.

    To have treated this woman this way because she is black and uninsured is not the behavior of a civilized people: It is the behavior of vile barbarians.

    And to read that her own mother was not allowed to take her in —we need a whole new civilization. This story sickens me to the core.

  • Sophia

    What a way to spend your last day alive. I wouldn’t rule out hate crimes, but it sure looks like these people were just lazy with their jobs…maybe a combination of both.

  • Awake

    Are you serious? A reason why everyone should have health coverage? This is a reason that there should be no such thing as health coverage. Rich or poor, everyone deserves to be treated if there is treatment available. The government could charge for air most would gladly empty there pockets. Health shouldn’t have a price.

  • Kendra

    This is not right! The title of the article is not right. A human being just died and someone wants to urge health care politics!! What ever happened to “First Do No Harm”, the Hippocratic Oath ALL DOCTORS TAKE?!! The treated her like trash and If I were the family I would sue both the hospital and the local authorities for every dime they had!!!! No settling outside of court either!

  • Inga harden

    I agree!!! I am do sad for her!!! (Tears flowing). This world we live in!!!

  • Lynne

    Where was her family when she & the kids were homeless & lost their way of life?

  • gloria

    Smh I believe both hospital and police need to be sued and jailed

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