Friday, March 24, 2006

LA hospitals dumping homeless patients on the streets

This just makes me want to puke.  I saw this on Good Morning America earlier today and couldn't believe what I was hearing.

But sure enough, LA area hospitals, including Kaiser Permanente, have been caught kicking out paitents who are homeless, putting them in cabs and directing the cabs to dump the patients off on the streets of one the most dangerous areas of LA.

Even better is the fact that is not only "area hospitals" but also jails that are overcrowded.

How far has this country sunk?

The stories are heartwrenching, especially when you consider the mental health of many homeless (not to mention how many people become homeless due to factors outside of their control, including many veterans who are mistreated by the system that they so bravely served for).

And yes, this is criminal.  Consider these two stories:

Carol Ann Reyes, 63, was loaded into a cab by Kaiser Permanente hospital staff and dumped on Skid Row, wearing nothing more than a hospital gown and socks, police said.

"She was very disoriented. She didn't know where she was or what she was doing," said Regina Chambers, who works at the Union Rescue Mission. "All she knew is that she had been to a hospital. She didn't know which one."

A 63 year old woman, treated like yesterday's rotten meat.  No shoes, no clothes, and no memory of what had happened to her.  

Just disgusting.

It seemed things couldn't get much worse for Marveil Williams. He was selling drugs and living on the streets of Los Angeles' Skid Row.

Then one night he got a beating he won't forget. "I just know I woke up in the hospital," Williams said.

But with no insurance, no family and no home, Williams says the hospital just wanted him out.

"They told me I needed to get out that hospital bed and go find somewhere to stay," he said.

His head and eyes still swollen, Williams was dumped on the doorstep of Skid Row's Union Rescue Mission.

And what does Kaiser hospital say to this?  

Diana Bonta, vice president of public affairs for Kaiser Southern California, told The Associated Press the incident violated hospital policy and would not occur again.

Oh good - "we won't do it again".  And with such a compassionate statement like that, you wonder how many times this was done already.  Officials are saying that hospitals that are caught dumping people against their will in a dangerous neighborhood could be sued or face criminal charges.

But as we know from the Government's recent track record on fines or other punative action, I wouldn't hold my breath for anything of substance.

Even more important is the neglect for our own people here - aren't these the ones that are most in need of treatment?  And don't hospitals have a higher duty to treat people that are in need?  

Certainly, if there is some sort of mental health need or drug addiction that would need treatment, aren't hospitals REQUIRED to take steps to help, as opposed to dumping sick, unstable, elderly or other people in need out on the streets?

Especially in such a bad area.  And ESPECIALLY with only a hospital gown and socks.

Just another example of "compassionate conservatism" at work.

What happened to my country?

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