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Grace Carlson

Death in the Mayor’s Office

(9 February 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 6, 9 February 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

On Tuesday, Jan 13, four-mouth old Arthur Jensen died in Minneapolis. The death of a small baby scarcely ever receives any space in the daily papers but Baby Boy Jensen’s death was blazoned in the headlines of all Minneapolis papers. Because it is news in any city when a baby dies in the Mayor’s office.

Behind the screaming headlines is the all-too-familiar story of inadequate medical care for the children of the poor. Here is the pathetic report, that the sorrowing young mother gave at the Public Welfare Board hearing on the case.

The baby had been at the Minneapolis General Hospital for about a week earlier in the month with an infected ear. He was discharged from the hospital on Jan. 10, but later developed a cold and fever. On Jan. 12, the child was taken to the hospital’s baby clinic, where he was examined. The doctor advised the mother to take the baby home and keep him on a liquid diet. Later in the day, the baby’s condition became worse and Mrs. Jensen took him back to the hospital’s receiving room. The baby was given a chest X-Ray and an injection of penicillin, with the advice that he be brought back to the clinic the following day.

(At the public hearing, the harassed and overworked young interne, who had examined the baby, pointed out that General Hospital is terribly overcrowded; a fact that all city officials know – and carefully ignore.)

Mrs. Jensen pleaded with the doctor to keep the baby in the hospital but was told that his condition did not warrant hospitalization. During the night, the baby became worse and cried a great deal. In the morning, the agitated parents brought the baby in a taxicab to Mayor Hubert Humphrey’s office in the vain hope that he could arrange to have the baby admitted to the hospital immediately. And as he lay on the desk in the Mayor’s office – waiting for the representatives of this rich, capitalist government to come to his aid – tiny Arthur Jensen drew his last breath.

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