Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Los Angeles (page 1 of 4)

Watching the Fishermen

I’m not a fan of the ocean.  It is too big, vast, dark, and scary.  The tide will come in and swallow you up like a shark.  But I am a Pisces.  Two fishes swimming in opposite directions.  I am drawn to the water.  The grubby little pier in Redondo Harbor is so small that it feels like it belongs in some run-down New England seaside resort that has seen better days.  Hollywood is far away.  The celebrities go to Malibu, the tourists to Santa Monica.  I like to watch the lazy fisherman, who spend the day dreaming of nothing, and catching even less, waiting for the sun to set.

Los Angeles Traffic – Instagram

If New York is symbolized by the Empire State Building, the iconic image of Los Angeles is… traffic.  Sure, the Los Angeles Kings just won the Stanley Cup, the supermodels are at the private beaches of Malibu, and the Hollywood sign beckons from Rodeo Drive, but when it comes down to our daily conversation, it is all about, “Jesus, avoid the 405 today.”

I took some traffic shots today.  One of them, taken on the freeway, could have earned me a hefty traffic ticket.  Look what I do for you, dear reader.  And for ART.

 

Jesus at the Beach

Summer at the beach.  Tanned bodies, flip-flops, kiddie rides, ice cream cones, pop songs on the radio.  Sure, there may be too much skin exposed, and people are reading dumb books rather than Dostoevsky, but there is way more sin going on in a typical night on HBO than at a California beach.  C’mon, Jesus, mellow out and relax.  Grab a Hawaiian ice and watch the girls.

Instagram Los Angeles: Day at the Beach

Change of Locale

I’ll be in Los Angeles, at least through the month of August.

Car Stolen

Hyundai
Santa Fe
gone away
to East L.A.
where Jose
will chop away
and ship next day
to Monterrey.

What can I say?
You’re on your way
to those who pay
for parts Hyundai.

I hope and pray
You’ll be OK
Good-bye Hyundai
my Santa Fe!

+++

Two nights ago, Sophia called me from Los Angeles.  Someone broke into our cars in our driveway and ransacked them.  She called the police, who said there was little they could do.  Our insurance card and checkbook were stolen, but we decided that this theft wasn’t the end of the world, even though Sophia felt a bit shaken, especially now that she is living alone.  We figured the matter was closed.  Last night, they returned, broke into our Hyundai SUV, disabled the alarm, and stole the car.  Sophia called the police again, who told her not to be hopeful about seeing the car again.

Vote for Me… Or Else

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I woke up this morning and saw a large manila package outside our door.  I opened the door, still in my underwear, and took it.  It was for Sophia.  Since she was still sleeping,  I took the initiative to open the package myself.  Out came a huge brochure, a press kit, and a free movie pass for a Paul Thomas Anderson-directed movie for Miramax.  I laughed to myself. It was for the SAG awards.  It was that time a year again, despite the Writers’ Strike. The Weinsteins must really want to win and Oscar this year.   Did they really send this to each and every SAG member?

I heard Sophia rustling in bed upstairs.

“You got a package!”

“A package? From whom?” she asked, half asleep.

“Someone really wants you to vote for them! — “There Will Be Blood“.”

“Oh my God.” she replied, her voice cracking nervously. “What did you say?!”

“Someone really wants you to vote for them! — “There Will Be Blood”.”

“Who would do such a thing? Is this a threat?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Sophia stepped out of the bedroom, looking like she spent a little bit too much time on Facebook last night, particularly the US politics application. She heard me say: ” Someone really wants you to vote for them or there will be blood!”

I assured her that Hilary Clinton would never send her a manila package with a threatening message.   She would put a horse’s head in the bed.

Where’s ICU?

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Thank you for your emails and comments about Fanya, Sophia’s mother.  She is doing better, and was released from the hospital tonight.  

Fanya’s room was located in the Saperstein Critical Care Tower, which was opened last year after entrepreneur and philanthropist David Saperstein and his wife Suzanne made the largest donation to Cedars-Sinai in the Medical Center’s history.

“The Sapersteins have accepted a crucial role in the reinvention of our campus by providing us with the means to build a state-of-the-art critical care tower,” said [hospital President and CEO Thomas M. Priselac when he received the donation]. “The Suzanne and David Saperstein Critical Care Tower will combine the latest monitoring technology with staffing to provide the most fragile patients with the most sophisticated care available.”

The Saperstein Critical Care Tower is clearly important for Los Angeles.

Annual hospital admissions countywide are up 20 percent in the past 10 years and seven hospitals have closed since 2003, according to a new report funded by The California Endowment.  West L.A. hospitals have been hard pressed to keep pace with demand, particularly institutions like Cedars that draw patients from a wider area. Population growth, on top of an aging demographic more likely to become seriously ill, have only exacerbated the situation, said  Dr. Paul Silka, [medical chief of staff], noting that Cedars often has long waiting lists to schedule elective surgery.

While Cedars-Sinai Medical Center clearly has top-notch doctors and medical equipment, I was not impressed with the human aspect of the patient care.   For example, why did no one come out to tell us how the surgery went?  Why did no one tell us that Fanya was taken back to ICU half an hour earlier?  Why were nurses laughing loudly with each other all night, waking up the patients in INTENSIVE CARE?   Or why was Fanya not fed for fourteen hours?  Even though the doctor gave the order to give her food, the nurse forgot to inform the nutrition department.  It took Sophia three and a half hours of fighting with everyone to get Fanya some food after her angioplasty.  Is this the bad effect of “Grey’s Anatomy,” where the personal lives of the staff are more important than those of the sick people?  Like in many other big-city hospitals, the basic concerns of the patient and his family seem to be of secondary consideration.   

Nothing symbolizes this better than the Saperstein Critical Care Tower itself.  As you can see from the above photo, the $110 million dollar facility may be “state-of-the-art,” but someone forgot to put up a sign telling patients and their families which building it is and WHERE THE ENTRANCE IS LOCATED.

What’s Up, Cedars-Sinai?

It’s been hectic.   My mother came to town.  We prepared for the first seder. I fought a cold.  My mother cooked a wonderful brisket, matzoh ball soup, kugel, etc.  We went over to the home of Fanya and Vartan, Sophia’s mother and step-father.   After the meal, Fanya had pains in her heart.   It was hurting her so much, that we called 911.   An ambulance came and she he was brought to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s emergency room.  We sat in the waiting room for hours.  Tomorrow, Fanya is going to get an angioplasty on her heart and liver.   Wish her good luck!

Now for some bitching about the hospital:

Cedars-Sinai is a world-famous hospital.  Its proximity to Beverly Hills has made it famous as the “hospital for the stars.”  This is where Hollywood celebrities have their babies.   Frank Sinatra died at Cedars-Sinai.  Movie producers have their names on hospital wings.  So, why do Sophia’s parents always get poor service at Cedars-Sinai Hospital?  

Because of the language barrier.   

They are an older couple who can only speak Russian.  Now, I’m all for immigrants learning English, but after a certain age, it is just too difficult a task.  Sophia often works in court as an interpreter, where every defendant who needs it is guaranteed BY LAW to have a language interpreter, and from what I understand, it is the same with every hospital patient.   Cedars-Sinai says that they have interpreters on staff.  So, why are so rarely used?

I was sitting in Fanya’s ICU hospital room this morning.  Sophia left to get some paperwork for her mom.  I noticed that the reading on the EKG monitor was at zero.  I told this to the nurse, a grouchy woman who looked like she came from another country herself. 

“Don’t move your right arm!” she told Fanya.  “It makes the monitor shut off.”

“She doesn’t understand what you are saying,” I said.  “She doesn’t speak English.”

“NO ARM UP!” the nurse yelled at Fanya, lying there with tubes stuck inside her arms, as if that was going to solve the problem.

“Don’t you have a Russian interpreter on call or on the phone?” I asked.

“She’s not here now.  Don’t you know Russian?”

“No, and I don’t think it is my job to be translating for the hospital.  When will there be a interpreter?”

“Let me go see.”

She left and I never saw her again.

The entire day has been one mistake after another.   Fanya is a slight woman.  She had lost 25 pounds in the last 6 months.  She was put on a restricted calorie diet!  The staff didn’t bring Fanya any food until 3:30 PM because they “thought” there was an order not to give her food.  Then she never got dinner.  After Sophia spoke to 5 people, they eventually brought her, a diabetic, four juices and Melba toast with cheese, at 10 PM. They gave her pills for diabetes with orange juice!   This is just poor medicine, but had Fanya been able to communicate – she would have been able to point their mistakes out, before they made her drink sugary juice with a pill to lower her blood sugar!  It is scary enough to be in a hospital.  It must be terrifying for a patient to be there and not understand the language of the staff, and Sophia can’t be there 24 hours a day.    Sophia told the nurses they can call her anytime to help with the Russian, but no one ever called.  God help the person who has to go into the hospital without having a family or friends to speak up for her!

When Fanya first came to the hospital, a male nurse was trying to figure out what was wrong with another Russian patient, a disheveled elderly man who was sobbing.   The nurse was poking the man in different places on his shoulder trying to figure out what pained him.

“Baleet?  Baleet?” the male nurse asked, using the only Russian word he knew, meaning “pain.”

Eventually, Sophia asked if she could help.   She spoke to the guy in Russian and learned that he wasn’t in physical pain, but emotional pain.  His grandson had just died, so he drank himself into a stupor, and his family didn’t know what to do with him, so they drove him at the hospital.  With three Russian families in the emergency room, wouldn’t it make sense to have an interpreter readily available?

Cedars-Sinai built a a major new building last year.  It cost millions of dollars.  The medical center has the best equipment, which must cost a fortune.   But would it really cost that much more to have a few more interpreters?   The hospital doesn’t need to have an interpreter for every language on duty 24/7, but Cedars-Sinai is smack in the middle of the major Russian and Persian communities of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.  Many of these are elderly people who don’t speak the English, and they end up getting less than mediocre medical care in a supposedly top-notch hospital.  There are Spanish interpreters in most city hospitals.  There are Korean-speaking interpreters in mid-city hospitals.   Why is Cedars-Sinai so stingy with their interpreters?  Have a donor put his name on the interpreters’ uniforms if it would help get more money!

I know Cedars-Sinai would rather be known as the “hospital of the stars” and promote all the A-list actors who go there after drug rehab.    I understand that UCLA Medical Center is stealing some of the “celebrity cache” from Cedars since it is located in the less immigrant friendly, more upscale Westside (oh no, Britney had her baby there!).  The truth is Cedars-Sinai is now more of a “city hospital,” which means catering to the immigrant community.  Sure, it must be an annoyance for the busy, overworked staff to deal with foreign-speaking patients (unless, of course, the patient is a member of some Royal family),  but shouldn’t effective communication be an essential part of medical care?

Update:  Fanya is doing better.  More complaining about Cedars.

Los Angeles Times to New York City: Drop Dead

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In a calllous show of one-upmanship, the Los Angeles Times contrasts bundled-up New Yorkers freezing their asses off with nubile young Angelenos in Santa Monica enjoying a carefree afternoon having lesbian sex with popular LA-produced “Rabbit” brand strap-on.

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