HEAD OF THE HOSPITAL THAT PUT A HOMELESS PARAPLEGIC PATIENT IN THE STREET WITH NO WHEELCHAIR BLAMES THE VAN DRIVER -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY ON CBS
It's happened so many times in Los Angeles that cameras have been set up near homeless shelters to catch it on tape, because it's illegal as well as immoral. It's called "hospital dumping." Hospitals put homeless patients in a van or a taxi and drop them on the city's Skid Row, sometimes dressed in only a flimsy gown, even if they're not healthy enough to fend for themselves.
In one of the latest incidents, the patient "dumped" was paraplegic Gabino Olvera, left to pull himself by his hands on the street. It was the van driver's fault, says the head of the hospital where Olvera was a patient. The hospital head, Hollywood Presbyterian acting CEO Kaylor Shemberger, appears in a 60 MINUTES report about hospital dumping by CNN's Anderson Cooper to be broadcast Sunday, May 20 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"[The van driver] violated hospital policy. She should not have dropped the patient off at that location," says Shemberger. "We're as shocked and outraged by this incident as anybody," he adds. Shemberger says no staff member has been disciplined for the violation of hospital policy, however.
When asked by Cooper whether the van driver was the only person who made a mistake, Shemberger replies, "Well, she's the person who made the decision to drop the patient off." To which Cooper responds, "And to those who would say that you're basically making a scapegoat of this low-paid van driver?" "I don't think anybody is making a scapegoat out of anybody," Shemberger says. To watch a clip of this exchange, click in this link:
Critics charge that hospitals don't like treating homeless patients because they often are uninsured and sometimes difficult to deal with. So, say critics, hospitals discharge them as quickly as possible, despite the law requiring them to make "appropriate arrangements for post-hospital care."
Allegations of hospital dumping have been around for years, but the situation heated up recently because the shelter cameras caught another extreme situation on tape: a 63-year-old homeless woman with dementia dropped off on Los Angeles' Skid Row wearing only a gown and a diaper and without medication for serious medical conditions, including extreme hypertension and fever. After the videotape of Carol Ann Reyes was released, a representative of the facility where Reyes was treated, Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Hospital, publicly apologized at a Skid Row press conference.
The camera provided enough evidence for Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo to file criminal and civil charges against Kaiser Permanente. But without the cameras, his job is much more difficult. "These may be the perfect victims because a homeless individual dumped on Skid Row disappears into the chaos of Skid Row within minutes. It's hard for us to find them and get the evidence we need," Delgadillo tells Cooper.
Tony, a denizen of Los Angeles' Skid Row, tells Cooper, "[Hospital dumping] is nothing new. [It's been going on] a long time. It just got news because they been bringing them down in their hospital gowns."