L.A.'s Homeless Patient Dumping Law Leads to $500,000 Settlement With Hospital

A Sun Valley hospital accused of dumping homeless patients on Skid Row has agreed to pay $500,000 to homeless service providers, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced on Thursday.

"Patient dumping has no place in our society, and my office will do everything possible to end this inhumane practice," Feuer said in a statement.

Pacifica Hospital of the Valley has also agreed to adopt "thorough and humane discharge policies" following a January incident in which the hospital allegedly discharged a homeless patient with a "grave mental disability" and left the patient on Skid Row.

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Patient dumping in Skid Row violates an L.A. city ordinance marking the practice as an "inhumane treatment" and public health hazard. Over the course of a decade, former patients have been found on Skid Row in hospital gowns or wearing hospital ID bracelets around their wrists. A case of a paraplegic man found crawling with a colostomy bag spurred public outrage and led to investigations as well as criminal charges.

The $500,000 settlement will go to various homeless agencies, including Integrated Recovery Network, Downtown Women's Center, Union Rescue Mission, Venice Family Clinic, Midnight Mission, and L.A. Family Housing. The hospital will also pay the city attorney's investigative costs.

Pacifica did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the agreement.

"Pacifica Hospital of the Valley is committed to offering patients excellent care and to implementing discharge policies that assure that when a patient leaves our hospital, that the patient's re-entry into society is done in a respectful and humane manner," said Ayman Mousa, the hospital's president and CEO.

The agreement is one in a string of settlements the city attorney's office reached with hospitals to end patient dumping. The city reached a settlement with the Beverly Hills Community Hospital Association in January, which required the hospital to pay $200,000 in civil penalties and adopt specific protocols for discharging homeless patients.

Feuer's office said it is currently meeting with the Hospital Association of Southern California to discuss changes to model patient discharge policies that could be employed by all hospitals in the region.

About the Author

Sarah Parvini is a Web Producer for KCET'S "SoCal Connected" and an award-winning multimedia journalist who has reported from different pockets around the globe.
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