January 2, 2024

Eddie Bernice Johnson's Family Claims Medical Neglect in Wake of Her Passing

Eddie Bernice Johnson's Family Claims Medical Neglect in Wake of Her Passing

Update 1/8/2024

The family of retired congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson has accused Baylor Scott & White Medical Center of negligence that led to her death earlier this month. Johnson, who represented Texas’ 30th congressional district for 30 years before retiring in January, was receiving rehabilitation at Baylor Scott & White after a fall when she contracted an infection that proved fatal, according to her family.

Medical Malpractice Lawyer, Les Weisbrod, is asserting that medical neglect led to the untimely demise of Congresswoman Johnson.

Specializing in medical malpractice cases, Weisbrod emphasized the universality of such incidents, stating, “It can happen to anybody, whether they’re a Congressperson or not. I’ve probably represented clients suing every major hospital in North Texas.”

The tragic incident allegedly occurred at the Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas, where Johnson was recuperating from back surgery in September. According to her family, she was left unattended in an unsanitary bed for an hour, which Weisbrod contends resulted in the infection that claimed her life on New Year's Day.

Weisbrod disclosed that Johnson's son, Kirk, had been present for most of her recovery but was shocked upon returning to find a distressing situation.

In response to the Johnson family's claims, Baylor Scott & White issued a statement, expressing condolences and commitment to working with the family and their legal representation. However, the healthcare institution cited the need to limit comments to respect patient privacy.

“Congresswoman Johnson was a longtime friend and champion in the communities we serve—she is an inspiration to all. We are committed to working directly with the Congresswoman’s family members and their counsel. Out of respect for patient privacy, we must limit our comments.”

Original article 1/2/2024

Eddie Bernice Johnson, the first nurse elected to Congress and the first Black Chief Psychiatric Nurse at the Dallas V.A. hospital, died on December 29, 2023, at the age of 88.  Johnson was a lifelong public servant who blazed a path for nurses, people of color, and women in politics as she represented Texas’ 30th Congressional District for over 30 years. During her time in Congress, she was a staunch advocate for healthcare, education, economic development, and civil rights.

Johnson’s son posted a heartfelt tribute to his mother on Facebook. 

“I am heartbroken to share the news that my mother, Eddie Bernice Johnson, has passed away.  She was a remarkable and loving mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and great grandmother, as well as a trailblazer and public servant.

While we mourn the loss of an extraordinary woman, we celebrate her life and legacy.  She will be deeply missed. 

Funeral services are pending.”

Career Highlights

According to her biography, Johnson began her career as a nurse in 1955, when she completed her nursing certificate, and later became the first Black chief psychiatric nurse and psychotherapist at the Veterans Administration hospital in Dallas, Texas. Johnson was elected into The Texas House of Representatives in 1972. 

  • Graduated from A.J. Moore High School, Waco, Tex., 1952
  • Nursing certificate, St. Mary’s College at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind., 1955
  • B.S., Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Tex., 1967
  • M.P.A., Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Tex., 1976
  • Chief psychiatric nurse and psychotherapist, Veterans Administration Hospital, Dallas, Tex.
  • Member of the Texas state house of representatives, 1972-1977
  • Administrator, United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1977-1981
  • Member of the Texas state senate, 1986-1992
  • Elected as a Democrat to the One Hundred Third and to the fourteen succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1993-January 3, 2023)
  • Chair, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (One Hundred Sixteenth and One Hundred Seventeenth Congresses.

Her experiences as a nurse shaped her priorities as a policymaker. She fought to expand healthcare access, especially for women, children, and minorities. She helped pass legislation like the Affordable Care Act and worked to reduce healthcare disparities across populations.

Johnson was devoted to serving the needs of the Dallas community. She secured federal funding for transportation and infrastructure projects, including highways, public transit, and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. She also worked to bring economic opportunities to her district, helping local businesses access government contracts and pushing for development in underserved areas.

Youtube video

Remembering Bernice Johnson's Legacy

President Joe Biden released a statement, remembering Johnson for her “commitment to the promise of America.” The President stated, “Eddie Bernice turned a childhood dream to work in medicine into a lifetime of service, fighting to get millions of Americans access to healthcare, education, and opportunity.”

Serena Bumpus, DNP and Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Nurses Association, remembered Johnson with a post on LinkedIn

“Texas nurses mourn the loss of Eddie Bernice Johnson, the first registered #nurse  elected to Congress and the first Black chief psychiatric nurse at Dallas’ Veterans Affair hospital. She had a career of “firsts” as the first Black woman to chair the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and  to lead the Congressional Black Congress. Representative Johnson paved the way and influenced other #nurses and persons of color to run for office at the local, state, and national levels. A proud Texas nurse and notably one of the most powerful and respected Democrats in the country, Representative Johnson’s public service is admired and will be greatly missed. May her legacy live on through those pursuing public office and fighting for equality for everyone.”

Johnson's cause of death has not been released.


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