Hospital Accused of Dumping Patients
The Los Angeles Police Department on Sunday launched a criminal investigation into the dumping of homeless people on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles by an ambulance from a nearby hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The department documented five cases over the weekend of patients who were dumped at homeless facilities against their will after being discharged from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center.
John Fenton, president and CEO of Metropolitan, said that three of the five documented patients arrived at the hospital from one of two homeless services centers in downtown Los Angeles -- Volunteers of America or Lamp Community Center -- and indicated those addresses on their admission form.
However, police said that all five patients said they did not want to be taken to Skid Row. When asked about the patients, officials at both homeless facilities had no record of any of the patients before or after ambulances deposited them there.
An ambulance worker that was interviewed by police said that the hospital had hired his company "on a regular basis" to transport patients to Skid Row.
Police said they are investigating whether the patients were falsely imprisoned upon discharge from the hospital and whether the hospital violated laws on patient treatment.
The city attorney's office is investigating whether hospitals that transport patients downtown are in compliance with the federal Emergency Medical Transfer and Active Labor Act and a state law governing corporate business practices.
A state law intended to eliminate patient dumping will take effect in January 2007 (Winton/DiMassa, Los Angeles Times, 10/18).
In other news related to Skid Row, the area continues to serve as a breeding ground for staph infections, but county health officials have not implemented measures to reduce the problem, Los Angeles Weekly reports.
The county Department of Health Services rejected a homeless facility's request for a mobile health unit to monitor and treat infected homeless people. Officials do not track the number of staph-related deaths in the county because such cases are not required to be reported.
The Los Angeles Police Department's Central Division did not wait for training from county health officials before taking certain precautions about avoiding staph infections. The department will offer monthly training on how to avoid contracting the infection and will install hand sanitizers and stainless steel benches that will be easier to disinfect (Pelisek, Los Angeles Weekly, 10/24).