May 04, 2007

An Ombuds By Any Other Name

The LA Times has an inspirational story about an unusual hospital employee with important and familiar responsibilities. White Memorial Hospital is located in an East LA neighborhood riven by gang conflict. Unlike other urban hospitals which have installed metal detectors or hired armed guards, White Memorial hired Mike Garcia, a 61 year old former gang member to act as a community mediator. Working in and out of the emergency room, Garcia has broken up fights, counseled gang members, separated them, and also comforted those who have been touched by the gang violence. According to Dr. Brian Johnston, chief of emergency services, "Mike definitely has made us more secure." (LA Times.)

Empathetic, discrete, fearless,
credible, neutral, informal, effective... Can we claim him as an honorary ombuds?

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