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College Hospital to pay $1.6 million in skid row dumping case [UPDATED]

Updated at 1 p.m.: An attorney representing College Hospital said the hospital denies any wrongdoing and does not believe its actions amounted to "patient dumping." The attorney also said the settlement should not be viewed as an admission of guilt or that the hospital acknowledges engaging in illegal practices. "It's a policy of the hospital and it always has been to discharge each and every patient appropriately," said Glenn Solomon.

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Original post:

Two suburban psychiatric hospitals sent more than 150 patients to fend for themselves on skid row over a two-year period, according to prosecutors who announced today the largest settlement yet in L.A.’s campaign against patient dumping.

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo said his office reached the agreement with College Hospital, which runs psychiatric hospitals in Costa Mesa and Cerritos, and which allegedly dumped the patients during 2007 and 2008. Delgadillo said that the hospital would pay $1.6 million in penalties and charitable contributions to a host of psychiatric and other social service agencies.

 It also agreed to establish new protocols for discharging homeless patients with mental disorders and would agree to respect a “no-go zone” similar to a gang injunction, which prohibits gang members from operating in a specific geographical area.

Authorities have alleged that perhaps dozens of hospital have dumped patients on skid row against their will, often people with no insurance and no family to help find them places to live. But until now, the City Attorney’s office has followed up on specific cases. In the case of College Hospital, however, prosecutors uncovered a much larger system of sending patients to downtown.

 “This is another step toward living up to our name, the city of Angels,” said Andy Bales, president of the Union Rescue Mission.

Over the last four years, authorities — along with many of the service providers in the skid row area — have cracked down on the practice of dumping people onto the streets of skid row by hospitals and some law enforcement agencies.

The Union Rescue Mission installed “dumping cams” outside its shelter in order to videotape instances of the practice. And the Los Angeles Police Department vowed to arrest anyone dumping patients on skid row, using a law against false imprisonment.

 The city attorney’s office has also mounted a campaign targeting specific hospitals that it believed was participating in the practice, using a state law concerning unfair business practices, which had been used to prosecute alleged slumlords and which allows a corporation to be sued for unscrupulous behavior, to act against the hospitals.

Two years ago, Kaiser Permanente agreed to a settlement requiring the HMO to establish new discharge rules and provide more training for employees, both of which were aimed at preventing further patient dumping. A retired U.S. District Court judge was assigned to oversee how the hospital chain complied with the rules.

The hospital chain also agreed to about $500,000 in penalties and financial contributions. That settlement was a model for the College Hospital agreement, said Delgadillo, but the new agreement goes further — with a larger financial settlement and the added no-go zone.

The $1.2 million of the College settlement allotted to charitable contributions will go to a number of organizations, including Hathaway-Sycamores Children and Family Services, Lamp community, the Midnight Mission, New Image emergency shelter and the Union Rescue Mission. Delgadillo said that he hoped that the agreement reached with College Hospital would end the practice of dumping. But he said that he had thought the same thing after the city reached a settlement with Kaiser.

 “But even after that, it didn’t stop,” he said. Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, whose area includes parts of skid row, said it was hard to talk about the practice of dumping without getting angry. “This is not an issue of saying we have more than our fair share in Los Angeles,” he said, “or that skid row has more than its fair share. It’s about respect for human beings.”

-- Cara Mia DiMassa and Richard Winton

 
Comments () | Archives (11)

They are still going to dump them. Maybe not on skid row, but outsdie our agencies. We had a hospital inland that dumped a patient at our door 20 minutes before closing, with no housing, without contacting us or his mother. All he was left with was the clothes on his back and a envelope with his discharge papers to us. It is disgusting when they lie and say they will keep them for a few weeks and transition them to a living facility. It is a tragedy that will not stop until we get more support, funding, and remove the stigma of mental illness.

What happened to the people that were dumped? Was some of this money used to help them?

What a poor example of journalism. How about a little more balance in regards to the Hospital's problems. These patients do not have any means of paying their bills and likely little desire to leave the hospital. How much free care does College Hospital provide each year? How much of this cost is shifted to patients that can pay? How does fining the Hospital solve the problem? How much will the paying patients see their bills increase as a result of the fine?

If Kaiser would go after Octomom and collect the hospital bill she owes from all the money she has made from interviews then they would not have to dump homeless people.

If you want to talk about "dumping", how about dumping the other way. Some of these homeless patients are brought from skid row to areas like Long Beach,Bellflower, Downey, Lynwood, etc. How many hospitals in downtown L.A. and on the way, do the ambulances pass to bring them to this area? Has it occured to people that when there are homeless patients who are now medically stable and with no place to go who are taking up a hospital bed that that leaves less beds available for people who are actually sick and need these beds. Do people have any idea how many hospitals have closed in the last 10 to 15 years and how many less hospital beds are available for the truly sick? has it occured to anyone that the responsibility to provide housing and services for the homeless is that of the city and the county of L.A. not of hospitals'. the responsibility of hospitals is to provide medical care and psychiatric care not long-term housing for the homeless. Are people aware of the the fact that LA.. has the largest homeless population in the country with proportionately the smallest number of homeless shelters and beds, and that although it has received the funding to add shelters it has not doen so? Also, when people have been sent to skid row, its because 90% of homeless shelters and resources are in the skid row area, and there is often no shelter bed anywhere else for them to go. This is a much bigger and more complex issue than blaming the hsopitals for somethigng that is a societal problem being swept under the rug and dumped in the laps of hospitals, most of which are already struggling to survive due to the increased number of uninsured people that they have to provide services for (for free),as well as increasingly more stringent regulations. So before everyone scapegoats hospitals and psychiatric hospitals, maybe this community needs to have a little more introspection about our NIMBY attitudes and confront Mr. Delgadillo (who by the way has had his own controversies - inappropriate use of city funds for personal use) and Mr. Villaraigosa regarding what they are or more acurately are NOT doing about providing shelters, permanent housing and services for the homeless and poor. Oh, and P.S. this problem is only going to get worse in the next year or two due to the bad economy. So watch out!

There should be a large fine for hospitals lying through their teeth.

This isn't the first time this has appeard in the news. Kaiser Permanente and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have been brought up in the past for their behavior also with homeless people. It's sad that Skid Row has become the dumping grounds for the homeless. Where is the value of human life in our hospitals?

Until those of us who are better off recognize that there will always be needy people (old, sick, mentally ill, addicted, mentally slow, etc., and now financially pounded) we will continue to have homelessness and unfunded medical care. Many countries provide for their mentally ill and indigent. They aren't going to disappear and some tax dollars are needed to care for those who can not, probably not ever, fully care for themselves. We need to step up to these problems as a society and stop the finger pointing in any direction.

I am so disappointed to read this story, it seems that no one has bothered to speak-STILL- to the hospital staffs allegedly involved in this issue. I do not, nor did I ever, work for College Hospital, but I did indeed work for several years, at another hospital accused of dumping. And as the first commenter noted, this is a far more complex problem than this story, and others like it, would lead us to believe. When a homeless person is stable and medically able to be released from a hospital, case workers work diligently to find them a shelter bed. However, quite often, especially in the colder months, none are available. Further, when low or no income people are released from the hospital, and have no one available to pick them up, the hospital, in addition to having provided their care, provides them free transportation to a destination of their choice...there are a number of homeless people who ASK to be taken to the skid row neighborhood. It is in fact, the neighborhood that most of them know, and they know that most services are available here. The responsibility doesn't, and shouldn't, rest with hospitals which are already overburdened for a host of reasons to manage the social issue of homelessness. The City must do a better job, and must provide more resources for dealing with this issue.

Why is any of this the responsibility of the hospital. The law requiring hospitals to provide all of this and then bill the rest of us is wrong.
When a patient is cleared the government should have the responsibility to take the patient and find a place for them. Get these things out of health care.
This and many other stupid laws have shifted governmental responsibility to others and the politicians make headlines saying they keep taxes down ( by shifting responsibility to others) and again headlines persecuting a health care organization for not doing governments job.

This problem should be the County's, not the hospitals'. While dumping of patients is illegal, it is a double-standard the County demonstrates by having their deputies dump homeless people at the psych wards, making it the hospital's problem. Nobody sues the County or the LASD for that....


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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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