Hospital Policy Changes Would Prevent ‘Dumping’ Accusations
Los Angeles County hospitals should obtain written permission from homeless patients before transporting them upon discharge, according to the Hospital Association of Southern California, the Los Angeles Times reports. HASC represents about 95% of the county's hospitals.
HASC is urging hospitals to change their discharge policies for homeless patients amid allegations of patient dumping in downtown Los Angeles. The allegations are being investigated by the Los Angeles city attorney's office.
Last week, four city council members wrote to the CEOs of the county's 78 acute care hospitals, saying "[i]t is imperative that the practice of 'dumping' people ... stop immediately." Council members said hospitals "should no longer make the assumption or claim that there is a support network that has the capacity to deal with whoever arrives at the doors of agencies" that serve homeless people in downtown Los Angeles.
In response to the council members, HASC Executive Vice President Jim Lott said that by obtaining written consent from patients before they are transported, "only homeless patients discharged by our hospitals who want to go to [downtown Los Angeles] will be provided transportation to that location."
Lott added, "[W]e believe that every attempt should be made to connect discharged homeless patients with the social services they need when they leave a hospital." Lott said on Friday that the policy change was recommended in part to prevent possible lawsuits by the city attorney (DiMassa/Winton, Los Angeles Times, 3/25).
A $100 million plan introduced last week to create "stabilization centers" for homeless people in each of the county's five districts could be "proof" that "local leaders would like to reverse this migration" of homeless people to downtown Los Angeles "and start sending downtown's destitute out to the hinterlands," a Los Angeles Daily News editorial states.
The editorial says it is "encouraging" that the county "appears to be getting serious about" the homeless "crisis." However, it "remains to be seen ... whether the efforts pay off," since problems associated with homelessness, such as mental illness and drug addiction, are issues that "money alone is rarely enough to solve," according to the editorial (Los Angeles Daily News, 3/27).
KPCC's "Talk of the City" on Friday included a discussion of Los Angeles County officials' proposal to establish five regional shelters. Guests on the program included:
- Steve Lopez, author of the "Points West" column for the Los Angeles Times;
- Orlando Ward, spokesperson for the advocacy group Midnight Mission; and
- Zev Yaroslavsky, a Los Angeles County supervisor (Rabe, "Talk of the City," KPCC, 3/24).
The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.