Hospitals Acknowledge Taking Homeless Patients to Downtown Los Angeles
Officials at three Los Angeles hospitals last week acknowledged that discharged patients with nowhere to go regularly are placed in taxicabs and dropped off in downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Los Angeles Police Department in a recent report alleged that Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles, Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center and several suburban law enforcement agencies engaged in the practice. Some social service agencies in the area said that other hospitals also engage in the practice, but those reports could not be confirmed, according to the Times.
Hospital officials said taking patients downtown is necessary because it is the only place in Southern California that has a high concentration of social services, such as homeless shelters and drug and alcohol programs. Hospital representatives said indigent patients taken downtown have the best chances of receiving follow-up services and shelter when they are discharged. Officials also said that patients are taken downtown only when they are healthy enough to be discharged.
LAPD officials agreed that the hospitals have few options but said the practice contributes to "the already grim conditions" in the area, the Times reports.
LAPD Assistant Chief George Gascon said the practice highlights the needs for social service programs to be available across the region, rather than concentrated downtown (Mia DiMassa/Winton, Los Angeles Times, 11/26).