Sadly, this isn't the first time I've had to blog on Los Angeles hospitals' unique way of dealing with the homeless. In fact, in my second post on the topic, just this past October, I wrote about how this practice had become the target of a criminal investigation.
How would you like to be discharged from the hospital, still in pain or not completely well, and dropped off someplace where you did not come from, perhaps didn't know where you were, and among people who you did not know? If someone-- homeless or not-- requests to be taken downtown, then it is fine to take them there. But absent such a request, discharge from a hospital is just that-- they can walk out the front door.
We also know that some of the homeless dumped on skid row 'paid' their hospital bill another way-- apparently being abducted, murdered and their bodies 'donated' to UCLA medical center in the infamous UCLA cadaver scandal.
But a story out today makes even that nauseating turn of events seem like old news:
a homeless paraplegic was dumped on skid row by an L.A. hospital:
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A hospital van dropped off a paraplegic man on Skid Row, allegedly leaving him crawling in the street with nothing more than a soiled gown and a broken colostomy bag, police said.
Witnesses who said they saw the incident Thursday wrote down a phone number on the van and took down its license-plate number, which helped detectives connect the vehicle to Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site.
Police said the incident was a case of "homeless dumping" and were questioning officials from the hospital.
Outrage is too mild a word for what I felt when I read this story. No matter how horrid some of these stories have gotten, it's always possible to think 'well, there is still something left they won't do.' Get a hint: NO, there is nothing they won't do. If they will even toss a paralyzed hospital patient out onto the street, then these goons will do anything. In fact, this should be prosecuted as a hate crime.
I know that hospitals lose a ton of money treating the indigent (welcome to America 2007, even as our President submits a budget that calls for another round of cuts in Medicaid) but if this is the best they can do, then there is indeed a strong argument for not just increasing Medicaid payments on behalf of the indigent, but in fact just plain nationalizing some hospitals (this one would be a prime candidate). Obviously the Presbyterian Church (which apparently has lent its name to the medical center) is incapable of running an institution that shows even the most minimal level of decency.