LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - More than a year ago, Gabino Olvera, a mentally impaired paraplegic homeless man, was left to drag himself on a downtown Los Angeles street after his discharge without a wheelchair from Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.
Today, a settlement of his lawsuit against the hospital insures the same will not happen to other Hollywood Presbyterian patients.
The settlement was negotiated by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Steven Archer of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP, and civil rights attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and Public Counsel. It establishes protocols for the proper release of indigent patients, requires training of hospital personnel, and names former U.S. Attorney and retired U.S. District Judge Lourdes Baird as special monitor of the hospital for up to five years.
The agreement also contributes a total $1 million to two non-profit corporations to help with transportation and post-discharge care of the poor, the uninsured and the homeless in the Hollywood area. JWCH Institute, Inc. will receive $600,000 for post-discharge facilities, while Queens Care receives $400,000 for outpatient physician care.
The settlement follows an investigation of Hollywood Presbyterian stemming in part from the discharge of Olvera, 42, who on February 8, 2007 was dumped on Skid Row in his hospital gown, without his wheelchair and trailing a broken urinary catheter.
'The case of Gabino Olvera is one of the most shocking that we have come across,' said Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. 'This agreement insures that one more hospital can't leave indigent patients helpless and flailing on Skid Row. We hope that, as with the settlement reached last year in the case of Carol Ann Reyes, hospitals get the message: patients are not to be dumped like rubbish in the streets.'
Last year, the Kaiser Permanente hospital chain reached a settlement in a similar case involving Reyes, an elderly homeless woman who was left on the street wearing only a hospital gown and socks.