A paraplegic man has sued the hospital that dumped him in a Skid Row gutter without his wheelchair.
Gabino Olvera, a 42-year-old man with a history of mental illness, was treated and discharged from Hollywood Presbyterian in February 2007, transported by van across town, and deposited on the side of a street with no wheelchair and wearing a soiled hospital gown. Witnesses at the scene observed Mr. Olvera dragging himself on the ground with his papers clenched in his teeth.
Attorneys for Public Counsel, the ACLU of Southern California, and the law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. have filed a lawsuit against Hollywood Presbyterian on behalf of Olvera.
The lawsuit is the second against a major hospital for dumping patients in downtown L.A. In 2006, the ACLU/SC and Public Counsel filed a lawsuit against Kaiser Foundation Hospitals for the unlawful dumping of Carol Reyes, a 64-year-old, mentally ill woman captured on videotape in her Kaiser hospital gown and socks wandering along the streets of Skid Row after being dropped off by taxi. That case led Kaiser to change its policies to address the issue of homeless patient discharge.
"Hospitals have an obligation to treat all their patients with dignity and respect," said ACLU/SC Legal Director Mark Rosenbaum. "In this case, Hollywood Presbyterian left a paraplegic man literally in the gutter without his wheelchair to drag himself to safety as best he could. It was like they lit a match to the Hippocratic oath."