At approximately 6:50 p.m. Monday, September 19, a nurse was stabbed to death outside the emergency room at Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City, California. The 49-year-old male nurse was approaching the hospital to start his night shift when he was stabbed multiple times in the neck and injured his right hand.
The nurse was flown to a nearby trauma center in critical condition. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the attacker pulled out a knife and stabbed him multiple times. No words were exchanged between the nurse and the attacker prior to the stabbing. The police believe it was a random attack by a homeless person.
The hospital was put on temporary lockdown while a search was carried out for the suspect who escaped. Police believe the attacker may be living in a nearby homeless camp, but are not releasing any security footage at this time.
The nurse was listed in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery. Mission Community Hospital released a statement saying it has increased security, but the statement doesn’t go into specifics. However, increased security will not solve the problem of increasing violence rooted in the deepening social crisis caused by an economic and political system dominated by a corporate oligarchy that puts profit before human life, ie capitalism.
The increasing presence of police and security guards in healthcare facilities is increasing violence against patients who can and have been victims of police abuse and police shootings.
In response to the September 19 attack, other health care workers immediately ran to help the wounded nurse. “Everybody jumped in, brought him in and took him somewhere to take care of him,” said Dr. James Higgins, a cardiologist at Mission Community Hospital. “It’s just scary, it’s a really sad thing that it’s going to happen in a place where you’re really trying to help people and save them. Instead, it’s almost like the opposite… Just shows you what’s going on in the world sometimes.”
In August, this author wrote about the increase in violence against US healthcare workers. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals became sites of mass death and frustration, with patients and family members being denied adequate care as the number and severity of hospital admissions skyrocketed. The violent act against the Southern California nurse is a disturbing expression of objective and vicious contradictions in American capitalist society.
Violence is being perpetrated against the working class in the form of preventable mass deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, which could be contained and eliminated unless the profit interests of the ruling class, which opposes all overarching public health measures, could be contained and eliminated his manic drive for ever greater personal wealth.
Social violence also manifests itself in the form of poverty, food and housing insecurity, endless war and the growing threat of nuclear war, as well as the existential threat posed by the climate catastrophe. All these social crimes are linked to the capitalist class’ attack on the living standards and democratic rights of the working class.
Last May, a 40-year-old psychiatrist in South Carolina was attacked by a patient and succumbed to his injuries three days later. Last June, a patient in Tulsa, Oklahoma killed three health care workers before killing himself. In October last year, a nurse in Florida was attacked by a patient and suffered a miscarriage as a result of the attack.
Both individual violence and homelessness are consequences of the conscious politics of the ruling class. In order to cut costs and increase profits, governments and corporations at all levels have eroded social, public health and mental health services for the working class over the past four decades, lowering workers’ social standing and real wages.
There hasn’t been a single day in the last decade that the United States hasn’t been at war. Regardless of their differences, Democrats and Republicans have banded together to allocate trillions of dollars to fund the US military machine.
Homelessness is exploding in the Los Angeles area, making it the epicenter of the housing crisis in California and the United States. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s Preliminary Estimation of Homelessness in LA County study, there are 83,347 homeless people on the streets and in shelters in Los Angeles County every night.
The numbers are higher when you add in the cities of Long Beach (6,000), Pasadena (1,200), and Glendale (400), for a total of over 91,000. The same study reports that 224,203 people are homeless for at least one day a year.
When mass deaths in the US and abroad are normalized by ongoing war, a preventable pandemic, and mass shootings, it inevitably impacts the psyches of those most at risk. As is mass poverty, homelessness and increasing exploitation of workers in the workplace.
The working class is the only social force that can put an end to the capitalist system that produces all these social evils. This can only be achieved through the unity of the working class in the US with its international working class brothers and sisters, through the establishment of grassroots committees in every workplace and the struggle for socialism.