LOS ANGELES – Prosecutors have filed civil complaints against two hospitals and a transportation service accusing them of dumping homeless patients in Skid Row, including a paraplegic man found crawling in a gutter.
Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Feliz and Methodist Hospital in Arcadia were accused of dumping two patients each in the downtown area over 14 months. The four people were sent there not by informed choice and without any plan for followup medical care so that the hospitals could rid themselves of the expense of caring for them, the compaints said.
Empire Enterprises, whose van driver allegedly left paraplegic Gabino Olvera at a Skid Row park as spectators protested, was named as a coconspirator. Olvera, 54, was found wearing a soiled hospital gown and a colostomy bag.
The complaints, filed Tuesday, seek fines against the hospitals and a court order banning the practice of dumping patients. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo is trying to use a state law concerning unfair business practices against the hospitals.
Kaylor Shemberger, executive vice president CHA Health Systems, the parent company of Hollywood Presbyterian, issued a statement saying Olvera told the van driver where to drop him off, against hospital policy.
"Following this incident, we instituted several new policies and intensified training to make sure nothing of the sort happens again," Shemberger said.
Methodist Hospital said its officials wanted to review the complaint before commenting.
Last year, the city's attorney's office filed false imprisonment and dependent care endangerment charges against Kaiser Permanente — the nation's largest nonprofit health maintenance organization — after a patient from Kaiser Permanente's Bellflower hospital was seen wandering Skid Row in a hospital gown.
Kaiser Permanente agreed last month in a settlement with the city to institute new discharge rules, provide more training for employees and allow a former U.S. attorney to monitor its progress.
Hollywood Presbyterian later said it too would adopt the same discharge rules for homeless patients. Delgadillo said at the time that Hollywood Presbyterian's adoption of the rules would have little effect on any legal action by his office.
Allegations that hospitals have dumped homeless patients in Skid Row have investigated by police and the city attorney's office for months.