MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
Los Angeles police are investigating another possible case of so-called patient dumping in the city's Skid Row area. It happened yesterday. And as NPR's Ina Jaffee reports, it joins dozens of other cases involving homeless patients allegedly brought to Skid Row by the hospitals discharging them.
INA JAFFEE: On the police department video of yesterday's incident, two cops can be seen helping an elderly African-American man into a wheelchair in front of the Los Angeles Mission. He appears frail and unsteady on his feet. He's dressed in pajama bottoms and a white t-shirt. His name is Moses Davis. He'd been a patient at Downy Regional Medical Center - 13 miles away from Skid Row.
HERB SMITH: We were not expecting Mr. Davis to show up at our doorstep.
JAFFEE: Herb Smith is the president of the Los Angeles Mission. He says that Moses Davis had not consented to be taken there.
SMITH: Trust. That's the bottom line. We can't help people who are unwilling to be here. We're not a lockdown facility. We're a voluntary facility.
JAFFEE: Downy Regional Medical Center denies that Moses Davis was a victim of patient dumping. Rob Fuller is the chief operating officer.
ROB FULLER: The gentleman checked himself out of the hospital. He was AMA. He left against medical advice.
JAFFEE: After that, says Fuller, a social worker found Davis sitting on a bench outside the hospital. She persuaded him to come back to the ER for evaluation. According to Fuller, Davis said he have an apartment but didn't want to go there. He said he had friends he could stay with, but didn't provide an address. That's when the hospital called the Los Angeles Mission and paid for the taxi that got him there. But Fuller agrees that Davis did not sign the consent form for that.
FULLER: He refused to sign any document at the hospital. We explained the situation to him and told him what the options were and got his consent.
JAFFEE: So you say you got a verbal consent, but he wouldn't sign anything.
FULLER: That's right.
JAFFEE: That's not good enough for city attorney Rocky Delgadillo.
ROCKY DELGADILLO: What I'm asking the hospitals to do is simply just to follow the law, which requires hospitals to have a discharge plan. And they have to take into consideration every aspect of that person's life, whether or not they have a home or not, and deliver them to a safer place.
JAFFEE: There's arguably no place in Southern California less safe than Skid Row. The sidewalks are lined with hundreds, if not thousands of people who camp out there every night. There are more drug arrests there than any place else in the city. It's no place, says Delgadillo, for someone who is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves.
DELGADILLO: This action by hospitals continues to rip up my insides. This is an ugly example of an industry that has lost its heart.
JAFFEE: Delgadillo says that his office has investigated more than 50 alleged incidents of Skid Row patient dumping in the last year. So far, criminal charges have been filed against just one hospital - Kaiser Permanente. As for Moses Davis, he's been taken to a county hospital for further evaluation.
Ina Jaffee, NPR News.
BLOCK: To see LAPD Video of the elderly victim who's in the center of this case, go to npr.org.
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