June 19, 2013
Madhouse in the hospital
It is one thing to dissect the real and imagined grievances of last Thursday’s pot-bangers, debating as to whether they were legitimate or self-interested, and quite another thing when things go wrong in real life, as occurred in a Greater Buenos Aires hospital last weekend when two rival gangs in Moreno chose to continue their feud into the corridors of the hospital where a wounded thug had been taken for treatment, terrifying the medical and auxiliary staff into strike action in the district’s only hospital. When the basis of civilized life is thus threatened, there is no scope for discussing the validity of public perceptions or whether the real is rational — such problems have to be faced and tackled.
Although both incidents are equally irrational and disturbing, the hospital violence cannot be placed in the same category as the Recoleta bus crash the next day as the product of an individual aberration (namely the rabid sense of entitlement of the passenger who took umbrage over the coin surcharge now required for the non-electronic payment of fares, assaulting the hapless bus-driver with sufficient ferocity to cause 36 injuries in the ensuing crash). On the contrary, it was the classic accident waiting to happen — the only wonder is that it did not happen first in an inner-city hospital where Federal Police security is in constant limbo due to the duel between national Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration and Mayor Mauricio Macri’s City Hall (a feud with just as much bad blood as the clash between the two Moreno gangs even if at a much higher and more sophisticated level). It stands to reason that if criminals, street gangs and soccer hooligans are going to make standard use of guns and knives, then some are going to be hurt and will need to be taken to hospital where there is always the danger of the violent dispute leading to the wound being resumed — any previous codes as to hospitals being neutral ground seem to have fallen into disuse. Yet forewarned is not always forearmed — even if last weekend was far from the first time this potential violence was translated into reality, hospital security is minimal with Moreno’s eight precincts having just 180 policemen to protect half a million citizens.
That people just do their jobs might seem the simplest and most normal thing in the world (as well as being absolutely fundamental for the social fabric) but when performing a routine function according to the established rules can mean suffering the assault of a deranged passenger or risking gangster bullets, then nothing can be taken for granted.