SERIES: Healthcare in America #18, Karen Thomas, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.

by Karen Thomas, September 23, 2018

Part I: Safety Doesn’t Happen By Accident

Friends, my healthcare story began at work. A perfect storm of events led to a workplace injury that should never have happened. I was an administrative clerk for a kitchen that served about 1500 meals a day, but on October 15th of 1990, the baker did not come to work. And the inventory clerk for the meat department called in sick.

Knowing that I’d previously worked as a baker, my boss asked me to make bread pudding for the day’s dessert. He asked John, without relevant experience, to step in as inventory clerk for meat. As we all know, in the high stress environments of large-scale kitchens, no Boss accepts “No.”

The freezers were located adjacent to the ovens, a seriously inconvenient architectural design. John, who had a poor attitude that day, first stacked the meat on pallets without criss-crossing it — done to form an interlocking knot on the stacking pallets and necessary to balance the weight evenly toward the middle of the pallet — then left pallets crowding the baking ovens. Finally, he removed the jack (the tool for moving pallets), took the jack outside, and locked the door behind him.

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