This occurred in the year 2000. I received an early morning telephone call from my 18-year-old daughter, Suzette. Suzette was an in-patient in a hospital. She had been told that she could not, would not be able to vote. It was Election Day that this was occurring. She was a registered voter. This would be her first time voting. This was the election where the Republican candidate was George Bush, and the Democratic candidate was Senator Al Gore.
I was very tired this particular morning. I had spent a lot of time at the hospital with my daughter the day before and had gotten home late that night. However, she was very upset and I was surprised to hear from her that she would not be able to vote. I figured they would have a representative, or someone coming around to see that the people were able to put a ballot in or do something. I had no idea that members of the staff at the hospital were flat out telling inpatients that they were not allowed to vote. My daughter’s astrological sign is a Leo. And, in astrology I will tell you something. You do not boss the Leo’s around. So my daughter wanted something done pronto!
I tried to calm her down as best I could. I asked for the nurse’s station and spoke with someone there to try to make some arrangements about her getting out to vote, or put me in touch with someone in administration at the hospital to see if they have a plan for people to vote. The first thing I wanted to do was to clarify if what my daughter was telling me, about not being allowed to vote was correct. So I had to take over starting in the hospital. It was about six in the morning when she had called me with this complaint.
I got to talk to two separate people at the hospital, none of which were in administration, but the people that I talked to informed me that they had no way of seeing that the patients could vote. They said they had no voting machines there and had not heard that anything was going to take place in order to allow in-patients to vote. These people simply did not know the plan.
The Tom Joyner Morning Show was a radio show that was very popular. This was an African American radio show. Tom Joyner had a lot of influence on people and people respected him. It aired from six in the morning until ten in the morning six days a week. So, my daughter was getting in touch with me early enough so that if I couldn’t pull some strings directly at the hospital, that I could get on the phone with the Tom Joyner Morning Show crew to let them know that people were being forbidden to vote. This was a very serious election.
When I got nowhere, I did call the Time Joyner Morning Show and reported this. They knew me from calling in, because I was a great fan of the show for years. Once I reported it and got their take on the matter, I got showered and dressed and headed for the hospital. My daughter was very glad to see me. I told her that Tom was working on it. That calmed her down a little. However, she was still a bit upset that she may not be able to vote.
I placed a call to the gastroenterologist, a stomach specialist assigned to Suzette. This doctor was also Chief of Staff in his department. I left word with his secretary that I needed to talk to him. I let them know that I was concerned about her not being able to vote and I wanted to talk to her boss about what we could do as far as getting the situation fixed.
I even expressed that if they could not get it straightened out quickly, would I be allowed to take her to the 12 minute drive away to the voting poll so that she could vote? I wanted to know if I could have that option. Then we sat waiting for answers from either Tom Joyner, the secretary, the floor staff, or the doctor directly.
I finally got a call from the doctor and he advised that there was nothing in place at the hospital for inpatients or emergency room patients to vote. He also explained that Suzette was a Crohn’s patient, with an IV. She could not leave the hospital. So that meant we were not going to be allowed to run over and vote and come back. Suzette was pissed.
I called back to the Tom Joyner Morning Show and gave them the results. Once I got that done I started calling the news media. I mean the television news media networks. I was asking questions and complaining about the fact that there were so many people inpatient and emergency room patients, and they could not vote. I spoke with a person at one of the television stations that wanted to interview Suzette and me. I answered some questions for them and then we hung up. It was my understanding that they were going to send someone over to the hospital to interview us.
Suzette still would not give up and calm down. She was afraid that the day will go by and she would not be able to vote. So I had to think of something else. I told Suzette that I was going to bust her out of the hospital secretly. I told her that I did not know how to handle the IV. The IV was in her hand. I knew nothing about taking needles out of her hand. The next thing I knew, that Leo girl had snatched that needle out of her hand. I told her to sit tight. I went out into the hallway and I found a wheelchair. I put Suzette in the wheelchair. She had on a hospital nightgown and a pair of panties. Because she came in late the evening before we hadn’t packed a bag, we just ran to the hospital. So, I had a suitcase with me and I was thinking whether I should put some clothes on her. But the more I thought about it, the plan that I had in mind, if I were to put some clothes on her or open the suitcase, then we probably wouldn’t be able to pull this off.
So I told Suzette to get in the chair with her hospital nightgown on and I got her some slippers. I rolled her down the hallway and I had my purse. I was stopped when I went to the elevator by a nurse. She asked me where I was going. I told her that I was taking Suzette down to the cafeteria to get her something to eat because she did not like the breakfast. I told her that I would be right back. She asked me why I was taking Suzette with me. I told her that Suzette had been upset this morning and she was cranky and she wanted to ride downstairs to the cafeteria with me and we will be right back. The nurse agreed and I told her I should be back within 15 minutes.
When we got downstairs I made a beeline for my car that was in the parking lot. I got Suzette out of the wheelchair and in my car and threw my handbag in the backseat. We fled. When we got to the schoolhouse where the voting was taking place, I grabbed her out and I snatched the blanket. The hospital gown was open in the back and I wrapped a blanket around her waist and I hustled her into the school house. As I was walking, I was pleading with the people in line to please let us through. I was saying it over and over again. I mentioned that we had a patient that needs to vote. This is her first time voting! She wants to vote! She’s just gotten out of the hospital!
People were leading her through the line that had been standing there and applauding her for coming to vote. So she got right in and she voted and she got right out and I was holding the blanket around her to keep her butt from showing and she got to vote. When we got out of the booth she held both hands up in triumph and said “Thank you all for witnessing this and helping me. This is my first time voting! I turned 18 this year.” As we left to get back in my car the people standing out were still applauding and giving her the thumbs up. We both voted and got the heck out of there.
When we got back to the hospital, I put Suzette back in a wheelchair and was getting on the elevator. When we got off the elevator and headed down the hall to her room, I was stopped by the nurse. The nurse said that they were looking for us in the cafeteria and could not find us. I told her that Suzette had to go to the bathroom and I did go into the bathroom that was around the corner from the cafeteria. We were probably in the bathroom when they were looking for us. She looked at us kind of funny and then we got to the room and she got back in bed. Now we have to figure out how to get that IV needle back in place in her hand. Suzette was so relieved that she had gotten to vote, that she didn’t even care about replacing the IV needle.
The next thing we know the doctor came in. He wanted to have a talk with me about the voting. He still did not have an answer he admitted, but he wanted to talk to us. He explained there would be no voting. I told him I understood and that I would explain it to the television station when they came up to talk to me and Suzette. He had a very disappointing look on his face. Then he was turning red. He was definitely angry. He looked at me.
“Do you mean to tell me that you called up the television station?” I answered yes. I explained that because we didn’t know how we were going to be able to vote, and I couldn’t get any answers quickly I called them and they want to interview us. The doctor hurried out of that room. In twenty minutes he came down and explained to us that they had a meeting and that everyone was going to be allowed to vote. He told me to take Suzette to vote and then bring her back to the hospital.
I told him that was okay that we didn’t care anymore. He said “Oh no, oh no please let’s get her ready and take her to vote and bring her back here." He insisted that we go. Suzette and I left the hospital. We had to go home to our house and stay there for three hours to kill time. We watched television and then we returned to the hospital. She spent nine additional days as an inpatient.
Insofar as the other patients in the hospital as inpatient and the emergency room patients, they were allowed to go to vote and then return. The hospital arranged transportation for them to their voting locations.
When Suzette was discharged from the hospital she was notified that she should continue her care at another facility. That’s another story.