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Hospital accused of dumping L.A. homeless woman to pay $125,000 fine

Four years after an Inglewood hospital allegedly dumped a woman with chronic lung problems at a West Los Angeles homeless shelter, the hospital's owner has agreed to settle a lawsuit by the L.A. city attorney.

The hospital's owner will pay $125,000 in penalties and charitable contributions and will abide by rules forbidding such practices at medical facilities it owns.

Centinela Freeman Holdings is the latest hospital group to be pursued by the L.A. city attorney for allegedly dumping patients at homeless shelters without following the required discharge procedures.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in February 2007 when Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center's campus in Inglewood discharged a woman in her 60s with chronic lung problems at the temporary winter shelter at the West L.A. Armory. City attorneys said the woman was carrying an oxygen cylinder when she was found by authorities. Centinela Freeman no longer owns the Inglewood hospital but does own the Marina del Rey Hospital, where the agreement will be enforced.

Since 2006, the city attorney's office and Los Angeles Police Department have uncovered hundreds of cases in which patients were dumped by hospitals across the region at facilities in skid row and other homeless shelters. In one case, College Hospital of Costa Mesa dumped more than 150 patients.

"As a result of the city attorney's settlements of homeless hospital patient dumping cases … the city has become a safer place for the most vulnerable hospital patients," said Deputy City Atty. Carolyn Phillips, who handled several of the cases. The city attorney's office –- first under City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and now under Carmen Trutanich -- has used a state law concerning unfair business practices that allows a corporation to be sued for unscrupulous behavior.

Under the settlement revealed this week, the hospital group will pay $5,000 in civil penalties and $120,000 in charitable contributions to a homeless recovery network that helps mentally ill patients.

The hospital owner also agreed to an injunction that prohibits it from discharging homeless patients to the streets or any shelter within an established "patient safety zone," a swath of downtown and South L.A. where most of the region's homeless shelters and missions are concentrated.

The hospital corporation did not acknowledge any wrongdoing but agreed to abide by best practices protocols for discharging homeless patients.

The protocols, signed in recent years by several Southern California hospitals, give specific requirements for how patients are to be released from hospitals and how they should be evaluated after their release. It also outlines a process for getting those who need additional care placed into medical or social service programs.

During the last five years, authorities and skid row service providers have cracked down on patient dumping. The Union Rescue Mission in downtown L.A. even installed "dumping cams" outside its shelter.

Several hospitals have agreed to settlements. College Hospital agreed to a $1.6-million settlement after widespread incidents of patient dumping. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center settled allegations that it left a paraplegic man crawling around in a hospital gown by agreeing to pay $1 million and be monitored by a former U.S. attorney. And Kaiser Permanente agreed to establish new discharge rules and provide more training for employees after Kaiser's Bellflower hospital discharged by taxi a 63-year-old patient still in her hospital gown. It paid $500,000 in charitable contributions and agreed to be monitored.


Authorities arrest technician accused of raping patient at hospital

Man killed during argument on Venice boardwalk

-- Richard Winton

Photo: Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood in 2004. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (20)

Until the hospitals are forced to 'admit wrongdoing', they will keep dumping patients. So much for the 'hypocritcal oath.'

so what are they supposed to do with them? They're homeless!!! Wait until a relative comes for them? They'll stay their as long as they can. And guess who they bill for these uninsured homeless people with no address while they wait for days for their "friends or family to come get them"(what a joke)...medi-cal.

Hospital adminstirators are MBAs and don't take the hippocratic oath.

Doctors who do take the hippocratic oath treat unisured patients all the time know they will never a cent compensation.

@ teacherinLA, Where in the article does it state that the patients are homeless. You assume they are all homless because they are being dumped at homless shelters. The law is clear, if you want to run medical facilities then you must adhere to the proper admission and discharged rules for all patients regardless if they are homeless or not.

The problem is that some of these patients have no home to go to, no friends or relatives to pick them up -- nothing. So what are the hospitals supposed to do? They lose money by treating these patients and that is why so many Southern California hospitals have closed.

Hey "teacherinLA" are you serious with that comment? As a "teacher" you should know better than that. Where is YOUR compassion to fellow human beings?! We are all a pay check away from being homeless AND you as a teacher should know better than that. When teachers are getting pink slips all the time. You need to teach compassion to the children you are suppose to be "teaching". This is about ethics, it is unethical to "dump" any patient anywhere without following proper due process.

In the 1950s and 60s when I was a polio patient at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, Rancho took the socalled indigent patient. They had no emergency room, but did excellent long term rehabilitation on these poor souls. Many of these people needed not only physical rehab, but a total lifestyle change. Complex orthopedic surgeries were sometimes damaged while the patient was on a weekend pass. The Ranch was not equipped for substance abuse treatment. LA County spent a lot of money on these people.
Jerry Daniel

How did we ever pass a law that if someone walks into an emergency room for emergency care, the hospital is then required to take care of all of their life's problems. What are we suppose to do? Buy her a home to recover in and then add it to everyone's next hospital bill? Are they suppose to keep her in a hospital bed because she has no home?

This is why health care costs are exploding and insurance premiums with it. Turning social problems into hospital problems is bad policy

Is there any question where the "patient dumpers" stand on the issue of "Obamacare"? President Obama may not have delivered the best insurance reforms, but the "patient dumpers" look at your health only as a charge against profits. Are you ready to be dumped someday?

These are people that are supposed to be caring for others. Isn't that why they got into the medical field, to care for others. What they did to those patients shows no concern for anyone. Or do they consider dumping them at a homeless shelter concern? Concern would to at the very least have the decency to give them clothes, other than a hospital gown, to wear.

@teacherinLA-I hope that you are not really a teacher. Your attitude is what is going to keep the world in the mess its in now. I hope that you have no influence over anyone's children or any children at all for that matter. You have no regard for human beings. I hope you never have to feel what its like to be homeless or maybe it would be better if you did. Then you would see what a jerk you really are!

Centinela is a Dr. Prim Reddy owned hospital and he is always about the bottom line. If you present to the Emergency Department and you have insurance you will be admitted, no matter what the reason for your visit. This is his business model. If you have no insurance you will be discharged from the emergency department. He found a willing bed mate in EMA, which is a Dr. Mark Bell and Dr. Irv Edwards medical staffing company. Pure Evil.

Not too long ago, you were taken directly to a nursing home. This happened to a healthy young grown man I met once who had broken his leg. These programs have dried up -- for Americans at least. I still don't understand how people can "dump" themselves from all over the world, walk across the border to have their babies, get on a plane and walk into a hospital for a free kidney operation etc. and they may be rich people at home.

Excuse me!!! although I am truly sorry for those who are unable to afford medical insurance, I work two jobs and my butt off for mine.

In the event that I am unable to obtain services, because the freeloaders of society have clogged the ER's, we have a serious problem. It becomes worse when the losses incurred by these non-payers are factored in to the bills I pay.

Truck them down to County-USC or Drew-King. You get what you pay for, until the government comes along and says, you get what we give you.

Nobama in 2012.

The fine relates to a time period prior to Dr. Reddy's company purchasing the facility. The former owners, Centinela Freeman Holdings, still operate the Marina Hospital in Marina del Rey.

@Steven M.

And without the safety net provided by government health care programs and other infrastructure, you'd not be able to get your insurance no matter how many unskilled jobs you have.

You conservative idiots are all alike. You have no problem taking advantage of the roads, public safety, and infrastructure that taxes pay for. The silly businesses that employ you wouldn't exist without that form of "socialism". Corporate welfare is rampant. Yet when your bosses tell you to jump and reject some help for ordinary working people, you whine on-cue about "socialism". All you know is kowtowing to your bosses.

Obama's health care plan is a start in the right direction, after decades of Republican-support of the rapacious insurance industry.

I want names of who were responsible for this.

I find it astounding to read the comments below especially that of the so called LA Teacher. It is so fortunate that many of you are employed and have probably never experienced medical issues with out health care I'm from the Uk so I don't live in fear. Health Care like Education is a social problem. With no basic healthcare and an educational system which lacks behind most developing countries, it is really not surprising to read the comments below, yes much needs to be done to address the many social problems this country faces but medical attention should not be a case of survival of the fittest or should I say survival of the richest. Perhaps everyone ought to revisit their classes in ethics as clearly many of you failed terribly and are emotionally inept.

So, if you're homeless, get admitted into the hospital. Then, somehow, it's the hospital's responsibility to house and care for you FOREVER.

No wonder medical care costs so much: we expect the hospitals to solve the homeless problem, which is really a mental illness problem caused by closing all the mental hospitals a generation ago and putting people who can't support themselves out on the street.

remember michelle obama as director of a chicago hospital use to do the same thing

obama care is no more than slavery to a democrat party (communist party) your health care and quality of health care will be based on what party (D) you belong to and what race group.
we dont want this...so if you think scott walker in wisc. was a bully ...this is the whole country being bullied by obama.

This article points out that hospitals need to follow discharge procedures. Before I watched "Sicko" or read this article, I would have never known that hospitals were dumping their patients at random shelters. The story about women who was carrying an oxygen cylinder and had chronic lung problems amazed me. After reading this article, it seems that hospitals truly don't really care about their patients and if they cant pay, then they will dump their patients even if it breaks discharging procedures. I am glad the city attorneys are cracking down on hospitals. They should be fined if they are mistreating their patients.


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