LOS ANGELES (CN) - Glendale Adventist Medical Center dumps homeless, mentally ill, disabled patients on Skid Row, the Los Angeles City Attorney claims in court.
The Aug. 20 lawsuit in Superior Court is City Attorney Mike Feuer's latest effort to crack down on "inhumane and intolerable" patient dumping in the homeless area of downtown.
In January, the city reached a settlement with Beverly Hospital in Montebello, which the city claimed had discharged a homeless patient to Skid Row. A judge ordered Beverly Hospital to pay $200,000 in civil penalties and adopt protocols to prevent it from happening again.
Patient dumping caused outrage almost a decade ago when images of homeless people walking in hospital gowns in Skid Row began appearing in news reports.
Lawsuits and criminal charges followed.
Kaiser Permanente was criminally charged by city prosecutors in 2006 for dropping off a barefooted homeless woman in Skid Row in just a hospital gown. Kaiser settled the following year, agreeing to implement special procedures for homeless patients.
Skid Row is a 50-block downtown area with a population of more than 17,000. As the city's latest lawsuit notes, the area is plagued by illicit drug use and violent crimes.
"Homeless people suffering from mental illness who wander these dangerous streets are particularly vulnerable to victimization and exploitation by criminal predators. Notwithstanding this well-known danger, defendant is alleged to have illegally discharged and transported or caused to be transported homeless, mentally-ill, disabled, dependent adult patients who were unable to take care of themselves on Skid Row," the 6-page lawsuit states.
In January, the Glendale News Press reported that a mentally ill patient had been put in taxi at a Glendale hospital and sent to a winter homeless shelter in the city without contacting the shelter first. Though the shelter declined to name the hospital, it said that Glendale Adventist was one of three hospitals the shelter had worked with.
Officials at the hospital told the Glendale News Press that the hospital has special procedures for discharging homeless patients.
In the new complaint, filed on behalf of the People of the State of California, the city seeks $2,500 for each violation of unfair competition law, an injunction, damages and costs.
Deputy Attorney Will Jay Pirkey filed the lawsuit.
Neither the city nor Glendale Adventist Medical Center immediately responded to requests for comment.