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Photo: ACLU/SC's Mark Rosenbaum announces the settlement of a hospital dumping lawsuit with L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.
Video released last year of a 63-year-old woman wandering Skid Row in a hospital gown sparked calls to end the hospital practice of dumping homeless patients in L.A.'s streets. The ACLU/SC has now settled a lawsuit filed last year against Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, accused of mismanaging Carol Ann Reyes' care.
"What happened to Ms. Reyes was disgraceful, and this agreement will help bring dignity back to the treatment of homeless people in this city's hospitals," said ACLU/SC Legal Director Mark Rosenbaum. He called the settlement a "national model" for the hospital dumping problem that has plagued cities but received little attention until now.
Kaiser agreed to adopt new discharge protocols for homeless patients and training procedures for hospital staff members who work with them. A retired federal judge will oversee the agreement.
The ACLU/SC announced the settlement with co-counsel, Public Counsel, and the L.A. City Attorney's office, which filed criminal charges against the hospital.
Carol Ann Reyes was discharged from Kaiser's Bellflower hospital in March 2006 and dropped 16 miles away outside the Union Rescue Mission in downtown L.A. Mission staff had received little advance notice and were unprepared for Ms. Reyes, who still faced medical problems and was readmitted to another hospital soon after being dumped at the mission's doors.
The story came full circle at a May 15 press conference on the mission's roof. Public Counsel's Dan Grunfeld said the settlement "marks the end of a nightmare for Ms. Reyes and a new beginning for our city in how we treat some of our most vulnerable members."
Ms. Reyes, now 64, lives in an assisted-care facility in the L.A. area. Her treatment and the disturbing video of her dumping put a spotlight on the precarious position of L.A. county's homeless population. Approximately 88,000 people are homeless in the county each night, and limited services are available to meet the need.