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Updated on February 9, 2009

A terrible occurence that didn't have to happen

Like the rest of America, I was profoundly shocked when I heard about Ervin Lupoe shooting his five children and his wife Ana before turning the gun on himself this week.

Then when I read in the Los Angeles Times about how he and his wife both lost their jobs at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in West Los Angeles, where they were both medical technicians, and were up to their eyeballs in IRS and credit card debt, I understood. I didn't condone what they did, not by any means, but I did understand.

And then I got mad.

Not at Lupoe or his wife, however; this is not, I repeat NOT, their blame.

I blame Kaiser Permanente for this family's tragic death. That's right, I said that. I went there. This death is on that hospital's head. Or on Lupoe's supervisor's head at least.

According to a story I read in the L.A. Times, Lupoe and his wife were fired from Kaiser because they lied about their income on a form in order to get more affordable child care, and forged their supervisor's signature in the process.

Now don't get me wrong here, I definitely DO NOT condon what Lupoe did. What he and his wife tried to pull was wrong, BUT...

What Kaiser did to that struggling couple was heartless, cruel, and unforgivable. It was akin to giving someone the death penalty over forging a perscription; worthy of jail time to be sure, but not the electric chair.

What Lupoe and his wife should have gotten, what they deserved, was a two-week suspension. That's what I would have given them if I was head of Kaiser's Human Resource department, but noooo... 

One mistake that they made, and they're kicked to the curb. This was nothing but a one-strike-and you're-out deal, and not only is that unfair, it is just flat-out wrong.

Having been a member of Kaiser for nearly 30 years before leaving them late last year, I honestly wasn't surprised at how that hospital dealt with that situation. When I was trying to work out bill and payment issues with them on the phone due to some financial problems that I have, not only did they give me the run-around, they were complately unsympathetic to my situation  and demanded money that I did not begin to have, nor would likely to have immediately.

In short, every time I dealt with them over the past year or so had left me going away angry at them.

So I even though I didn't condone what Lupoe did, I understood his apparent frustration with that company.


In other words, in my view Lupoe didn't really kill his family or himself. Kaiser did. 

The blood of that family rests on Kaiser's hands. That's right, I went there.

Not only should Kaiser pay for that family's funeral, but the survivors of Lupoe and his wife should sue the heck out of them, for the pain and suffereing they had caused that poor clan.

Perhaps then they would rest in peace. Which is what I certainly wish them.


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    • Dhart profile image

      Dhart 8 years ago from Culver City, CA

      Valerie, I've got five words in response to what you wrote:

      Amen and I hear you!

    • profile image

      Valerie Lynn 8 years ago

      Hospitals have become corporations owned by narssistic CEO's.  The culture has changed in tradition helping professions from non-profit to for profit and all of the ills this cultures brings.  They have no empathy.  They are Madoff's waiting to happen.  I am not surprised, though am greatly disheartened, by the terror these individuals felt, so much so, they felt they could not protect themselves or their children except through death.  There is a concomittant drain of social and other supportive services even while indifference in traditionally empathic fields fade away.  No, none of us condone it; yet, how well we understand how individuals and families end of feeling their backs are to the wall with no way out.  Corporations' (void of)values have become the scourge of our country.  In time, we will all pay, more than we are at present. I hope we will not become so isolated we cannot or will not look to our neighbors and friends to give and receive support.

    • profile image

      rover 8 years ago

      Dhart i disagree with u about 1 thing, u can't say that "anyone who would forge a signature to try & get affordable child care has to be desperate." people are always trying to take advantage of the system.

      I live in africa where people earn so little money its ridiculous, but they don't all go any kill each other just because times are tough, they fight through, and they aer happy.. Whenever a tragedy like this takes place there will always be people to blame, but at the end of the day, there are always people in shit situations, its not the hospital's fault or the family's fault it's just how life goes

    • Dhart profile image

      Dhart 8 years ago from Culver City, CA

      Have you ever considered the possibility that sometimes people can't rise above the circumstances?

      Clearly this was a guy that was desparate - anyone who would forge a signature to try & get affordable child care has to be so.

      Also, losing one's job and being on the verge of foreclosure and homelessness, as this family was, would also make one desparate; this was not just a mere "bump on the road of life", as you put it - you make what happened to him seem like nothing

      And I wonder if you read the entire piece. I mentioned that what Lupoe did to get fired was wrong.

      My point was, Kaiser was absolutely heartless in how they dealt with that situation. Why couldn't they establish a more affordable child care? Or even give Lupoe & his wife a better salary? If they did that, 7 people would have lived, & we wouldn't be having this conversation.

      What you said in your comments is real easy to say, you probably have never dealt with Kaiser and you financial situation is likely all hunky-dory. But if you were faced with Lupoe's situation and had absolutely nowhere to turn, well, maybe you wouldn't have killed yourself & your loved ones, but I'll bet you would've at least thought about some desparate measures.

      As such, you sound as heartless and unsympathetic as Kaiser. I only hope I never encounter you if I ever become homeless or something like that. 

      I should ask you this: If you lost your job and had no source or hope of income, and you were about to lose your house, what would you have done?

      And don't just say "get another job". What if there were no jobs, & every place you went to told you to get lost?

    • profile image

      Janet 8 years ago

      Wow, this is rediculous. What ever happened to people rising above the circumstance. Everyone is in charge of thier own fate. Kaiser Permanente clearly made mistakes, however, if we took every bump in the road of life to be the last straw wherewould most of us be. We could go through all the details with fine tooth comb as well. What Kaiser did. What the Lupoe did or could have not done. To my understanding forging a signature wasn't all Lupoe was responsible for misrepresenting. Either way this is a horrible outcome to a circumstance. But I don't blame someone else when things go wrong, even if they are the cause. I choose the higher ground, find a solution. Which certainly isn't taking it out on my family. Making them suffer the consequence of my or even someone elses actions.