ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
In Los Angeles, there have been complaints for some time that hospitals are dumping indigent patients onto Skid Row. It happened again this week, only this time NPR's Ina Jaffe reports that the dumping of a 63-year-old woman was caught on videotape.
INA JAFFE reporting:
On one side of the street was a typical Skid Row scene, the sidewalk lined with piles of the blankets and belongings of people who have no other home but that few feet of pavement. We looked at a place where all the people in suits cross the way in front of the Union Rescue Mission. Reporters and city officials were gathered around a video monitor there to watch an incident that was caught by the mission's security cameras Monday afternoon. Describing the tape was mission president, Andy Bales.
Mr. ANDY BALES (Mission President): Yeah, the cab just did a U-turn, illegal U-turn, and, in a moment, on the far right of the screen, you'll see a lady step into the street in a hospital gown. There she is.
JAFFE: After leaving the cab, the elderly woman walks in the street for a while, then turns and walks back toward the mission on the sidewalk. She appears to have only hospital socks on her feet. A mission worker, Regina Chambers, comes out to speak to her.
Ms. REGINA CHAMBERS (Mission worker): Well, when I first approached her, she was very disoriented. She didn't know where she was or what she was doing. All she knew was that she had been to a hospital. She didn't know which one, and she wasn't sure about the cab. She thought it was yellow, and I told her, I said, well, we're just going to take you and get you a bed because it's kind of cold out here.
JAFFE: The woman's been identified as Carol Reyes. She's a homeless resident of the City of Gardena, a dozen miles south of L.A. She was released from the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in the City of Bellflower, 16 miles southeast of the mission. Diana Bonta, a Vice President for Communications of Kaiser Permanente, looks stricken as she stepped to the microphone.
Ms. DIANA BONTA (Vice President, Communications, Kaiser Permanente): I want to apologize to this patient. I want to sincerely apologize. I want to apologize as well to the community and to those of you gathered here today. We will immediately take action to see that this never happens again.
JAFFE: Though there's a high concentration of homeless people on Skid Row, they're only a fraction of the 91,000 homeless across LA County. City Council member Jan Perry represents this area, and she says hospitals may be using Skid Row as a dumping ground because that's where the missions and rehab centers are.
Ms. JAN PERRY (City Council member): For municipalities who don't want to extend themselves or send themselves to people who are homeless, it's an easy excuse to just bring somebody over here and leave them here.
JAFFE: The City Attorney's Office has been investigating the dumping of patients on Skid Row for the past three months to see if state or federal laws have been broken. The videotape of Carol Reyes will now be part of the investigation.
Ina Jaffe, NPR News, Los Angeles.
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