The LA City Attorney's office moved quickly to clarify the story that appeared in the print version of the Daily Journal, a legal newspaper, about a schizophrenic man who had been driven 40 miles from College Hospital in Costa Mesa and then mysteriously "dumped" near the Union Rescue Mission on skid row in downtown LA. The story suggested that City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo was investigating the incident as an incident of homeless-patient dumping, but spokesperson Nick Velasquez told the Weekly that the city attorney's office had not yet determined if this was the case.
The man was reportedly dropped off by a van outside of the mission, which provides services to the homeless, after he was discharged from College Hospital in Costa Mesa last week.
After he was treated at the mission, he was taken to an LA area hospital.
"If this is in fact determined to be a homeless patient dumping, it would be significant in that a new state law that went into effect in January makes it a misdemeanor crime to transport a homeless person and dump them in another county," he said.
Skid row has been the site of numerous infamous dumpings of mentally ill homeless patients by hospitals in the LA area. Delgadillo has filed civil and criminal charges against several hospitals in the past few years, Velasquez said.
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One of the more disturbing cases was that of 63-year-old Carol Ann Reyes, who was dropped off by a taxi after being discharged from Kaiser's Bellflower hospital and caught on video tape meandering through skid row in her hospital gown. The city attorney's office filed criminal and civil charges against Kaiser Permanente; the non-profit giant eventually settled and agreed to new discharge rules and to be monitored by a former U.S. attorney.
To date, said Kitty Walker, a spokesperson for the Union Rescue Mission, the non-profit has not had any run-ins with College Hospital in Costa Mesa. An attorney for the hospital's parent corporation said it was "looking into the matter," but would not comment further, according to the LA Times.
If the cross-county trek from Costa Mesa to downtown L.A. is determined to be a case of patient dumping, "It would be the first of its kind if we were to pursue legal action," said Delgadillo.
*Picture: Carol Ann Reyes on security cameras.