During a news conference outside of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles Wednesday, Charles Johnson IV—the husband of Kira Dixon Johnson—explained that the hospital engaged in racist practices that resulted in his wife’s death. Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth, a fact that Johnson underscored. He is suing the facility and the court date has been set for May 11.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that my wife would be here today and be here Sunday celebrating Mother’s Day with her boys if she was a Caucasian woman. The reality is that on April 12, 2016, when we walked into Cedars-Sinai hospital for what we expected to be the happiest day of our lives, the greatest risk factor that Kira Dixon Johnson faced was racism.”
Johnson died of internal bleeding 12 hours after undergoing a scheduled caesarian section. Attorney Nicholas Rowley, who was also present at the conference, expressed his disbelief over the procedure being completed in just 17 minutes. “This is sloppy. It was butchery. It shocked everybody that we deposed, all the health care providers, even the head of (obstetrics) here, the head of labor and delivery, looked at it and said ‘No, I’ve never seen one done that fast.’”
Cedars-Sinai said in a statement that Johnson’s claim is a “mischaracterization of our culture and values” and that they “are actively working to eradicate unconscious bias in health care and advance equity in health care more broadly.” The hospital also “commends Mr. Johnson for the attention he has brought to the important issue of racial disparities in maternal outcomes.”
In addition to accountability and damages, Johnson is also looking to obtain an injunction that would mandate changes to the facility that would protect Black mothers.