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Mental hospital sued for alleged patient dumping in Skid Row

Latest homeless issue news. (Thinkstock)
Latest homeless issue news. (Thinkstock)

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer today will unveil details of a lawsuit his office filed against a hospital in Hawaiian Gardens, alleging it dumped a mentally ill patient on Skid Row.

Clad only in paper pajamas, the 38-year-old schizophrenic homeless woman showed up in front of the Union Rescue Mission one day in September, allegedly dropped off by a hospital van, the Los Angeles Times reported.

She wandered without identification, money or medication through Los Angeles’ skid row before someone at another shelter contacted the owner of the van, Gardens Regional Hospital & Medical Center in Hawaiian Gardens, according to the suit filed Tuesday.

The suit accuses Gardens Regional of repeatedly dumping patients, this woman among them, without appropriate treatment or discharge plans. In the last two years, Feuer has filed similar lawsuits against several other hospitals, according to The Times.

In the most significant case, Adventist Health, which runs 19 hospitals and clinic centers in four states, including Glendale Adventist Medical Center, paid $700,000 last year to settle dumping allegations without admitting wrongdoing.

Some hospitals maintain they are hamstrung by laws that stop them from confining all but the most severely psychotic homeless people, according to The Times. State law requires discharge planning, but hospitals say there is nowhere for homeless patients to go, especially those with mental conditions.

Feuer said many area hospitals have signed on to appropriate protocols.

“In each of the cases we’ve resolved with a medical care facility we’ve not had a single problem,” Feuer told The Times in a telephone interview. “It is possible for a healthcare facility to adopt humane and decent treatment.” Feuer said his office is investigating other facilities for patient dumping.

There was no immediate comment from Gardens Regional.

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