Letters for the week of April 10, 2002 

Decrying the racism of "The Last Revolutionary"; Taking issue with Dr. Rod Perry's position.

A walking, talking parody
The odyssey of Yuri Kochiyama ("The Last Revolutionary," March 13) seems typical of those '60s toy soldiers who talked a good game of revolution, spouted the tough ideology, bought into the then-PC rhetoric -- thereby losing any original thought but gaining absolute predictability -- but run like chickens if they really got involved in a real revolution. If the Kochiyamas, et al., found themselves in the "new society," they wouldn't have a clue of what to do.

I find little to admire in the diminutive activist's associations. Former Black Panther insider David Horowitz, certainly more an authority on the organization than Ms. K., knows of what he speaks when he describes the BPP as full of street thugs, shakedown artists, drug dealers and addicts, apparently unseen by Kochiyama. In her early forties, she became a groupie of Malcolm X, a charismatic liar and racist who espoused a bizarre theory, still heard today, of black racial superiority as crazy, hateful, and unscientific as the looniest beliefs of white supremacy, à la the KKK, neo-Nazis, devout segregationists, Skinheads, or Aryan brotherhood(s), along with blatant anti-Semitism. As far as working with survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I wonder why her heart goes out so much for them with no mention of US lives and the lives of millions of other Allies and innocent Asians who suffered under Japanese bellicosity.

In denouncing what she perceives in George Bush supporters to be racism when she refers to "white people 'like' Bush," she shows her racism and usual leftist intolerance of ideas not compatible to her agenda. I'm a lifetime Democrat who voted for Gore, thus no fan of Dubya (outside of backing high war against terrorism), but Kochiyama's unfair attack is stupid and reveals more about her. She is a walking, talking parody of her own ilk.
George Warren, Alameda

She is a treasure
I have been fortunate to have known Yuri Kochiyama and her family since June 1985, when the great jazz drummer Akira Tana invited me up to the Kochiyamas' Harlem apartment as a party guest. We residents of the San Francisco Bay Area are blessed to have Yuri Kochiyama living among us now. She has long been a staunch leader of social activism in New York and continues here to speak truth to power. She is a treasure.

There is a famous image of Yuri Kochiyama in the February 1965 issue of LIFE magazine, aiding the assassinated Malcolm X, on her knees cradling his head. To Will Smith and his advisors' credit, as Malcolm X approaches the podium backstage at the Audubon Ballroom in the film Ali, he greets a diminutive bespectacled Asian woman dressed exactly as Yuri was in the photograph.
Anthony Brown, Director, Asian-American Orchestra, Berkeley

Even the headline couldn't ruin it
Melissa Hung's article on Yuri Kochiyama was wonderful to read, thank you. I only hope that Ms. Kochiyama did not feel belittled by the title which was put on it. I thought it was condescending and almost sophomoric myself. She deserved better.

Christina Creveling, Berkeley

It's about saving lives
It was surprising to read the March 13 letter from Rod Perry, given that my family has done everything within reason to protect his name. Perry's letter deflects attention from the real issue, patient care vs. corporate greed and irresponsibility. He portrays my family as vindictive and the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) as an agency that wants to strangle medical care with rigid regulations. Neither could be further from the truth. I am sad for Perry, as our only goal is to ensure that no one ever has to suffer and die needlessly as our mother did.

Our mom had an excellent chance of survival when she called Kaiser in the morning with symptoms of a leaking aneurysm. Expert testimony states she had a "75 percent chance of survival" until she fully ruptured over nine hours after she first called for help. Perry inaccurately states that our mom "insisted on seeing (him) personally." Our mother followed the rules and did exactly what is suggested in Kaiser's services guidebook. She tried futilely for eight hours to talk with any medical professional to determine whether her symptoms might be serious. She sat in pain in Perry's waiting room for almost two hours. Perry coldly states that he "offer(ed) to her daughter the possibility of saving her mother's life by driving her immediately to the hospital" and that my sister was unwilling. My sister not only offered, but was told by Perry to wait for the ambulance. The ambulance wasn't dispatched until 5:01, over 25 minutes after she was first seen by Perry. She was left untreated in Perry's exam room for 30 minutes. She wasn't triaged in the ER until 5:38, one hour after she first saw Perry. As she waited for surgery, and the nurses struggled to insert the IVs, her aortic artery, which had held on for help all day, finally burst. Surgery to repair the ruptured artery didn't begin until 6:00. By then, she had already bled out.

Perry states my mom "in consultation with family ... refuse(d) further ICU care." She couldn't talk! She was on a respirator, her mouth taped closed, her eyes swollen shut. She was conscious but receiving no pain medication. She could only communicate through a hand squeeze that she was in terrible pain. Perry erroneously states her prognosis as "guarded." Her records state her prognosis as "extraordinarily grim." We asked the doctor to give her pain medication, hoping that easing her pain might give her strength to fight for her life. He said she had virtually no chance of survival. Her organs were shutting down, her extremities dying, and her blood pressure was falling despite increasing doses of pressors. The doctors agreed that giving her pain medication was the best option.

Perry's letter strays too far from the recorded facts. It sadly appears as an attempt to redirect blame and to hurt my family, who he mistakenly believes has tried to hurt him.

It was disturbing to watch Kaiser's attorney tell Perry in the hearing that we had tried to sue him and requested to have his license revoked. So as he left, I chased after him and told him that this was untrue. But he simply walked away.

We only wanted an investigation to know how a woman who followed Kaiser's own protocol, doing everything she could for eight hours to get help, could die such a horrible death. We only wanted truth. Both Kaiser and Perry were unwilling to give us that.

Records show that the Medical Board of California stated that my "mother attempted in every way possible to follow (Kaiser) protocol in seeking medical care for her condition." The Board saw systemic Kaiser problems and recommended we "continue to pursue this with (the agency) that regulates healthcare service plans." We did. Regrettably, Perry's name cannot be disconnected from this case. As my mother's primary care physician, who she tried desperately to speak with that day, he played a role that could not be overlooked.

The year my mother died, fifty-six Kaiser doctors had the courage to draft a letter stating "cost-cutting and cutbacks in advice nurses, nurses, and medical assistants are negatively affecting patients and staff." Nurses also warned Kaiser that there would be serious problems due to cutbacks. Our mom's death was exactly what they predicted. These doctors and nurses risked job security for the sake of patients by speaking out when they saw barriers to care. They are the heroes and we are fighting for their desire to practice good medicine.

Perry states "I did my best for my patient." Did complacency, apathy, or failure of will contribute to her death? Was he aware that this clinic had been chronically understaffed and was seriously understaffed on the day of my mom's death? Was he aware that the Kaiser phone system and triage protocol made it impossible for my mom to get the help she needed? Was he aware that the clinic lacked adequate protocols to assure proper patient care? Did he strive to ensure that his patients get the care they needed when they needed it?

Perry states he can't imagine our mom "would want medical care at Kaiser strangled by rigid regulations and procedures imposed by a State bureaucracy." Clearly he didn't know her. Our mother would want her family and the state to do everything possible to prevent someone from dying the kind of hopeless death she suffered. This case isn't about Rod Perry. It's about saving lives. It's not about over-regulation, it's about protection. Laws have been made to protect patients but these laws have been ignored too long. People have suffered and died as a result. The California DMHC is simply trying to save lives by enforcing the law.
Terry Preston, Hayward

Yo no quiero Taco Bell
I write regarding your story on Talk of the Town ("Planet Clair," February 27). Although I'm a stranger to Oakland, I'm no stranger to the issues surrounding us Latinos.

I'm presently incarcerated here in North County Jail, and I have a view of Mexicali Rose. Yes, it's a Mexican joint, but you can be fooled, as I was here for both Cinco de Mayo and 16th September, and I did not see even one Mexican flag appear. When I read your story, I was moved how it expressed the way the former owner served the Latino community and connected with its culture. It's evident that the new owner will not connect with the Latinos or its community -- with a name like Tres Perros Locos ("Three Crazy Dogs") they have taken the same approach as Taco Bell with its Chihuahua saying "Yo quiero Taco Bell." As much as I would love to see our community enriched with the opening of Talk of the Town, what good will it be if it's not part of our community?
Cornelio J. Tristan, UJV009, Oakland


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