Los Angeles

Glendale Hospital Settles Patient Dumping Lawsuit For $700K

Glendale Adventist admits no wrongdoing in the agreement, which stems from an allegation it took a homeless patient to Skid Row after discharge

Glendale Adventist Medical Center has agreed to by $700,000 to settle allegations it illegally dumped homeless patients on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Tuesday.

As part of the agreement, the hospital will amend its policies on discharging homeless patients, the city attorney said.

"Patient dumping will not be tolerated and we will continue to work aggressively until it ceases to exist," Feuer said in a statement. "Every discharged patient, homeless or housed, should be able to recuperate with dignity."

The case stems from an incident in June when a homeless patient was taken to Skid Row after being discharged from the 515-bed facility.

Glendale Adventist is part of Adventist Health, a not-for-profit that operates 19 hospitals in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.

"Glendale Adventist Medical Center has always been deeply committed to providing appropriate discharge options to all patients and we have adjusted our policies to further align with the City of Los Angeles' specific protocols for the discharge of homeless patients," said Kevin Roberts, chief executive of the hospital, in a written statement.

Glendale Adventist did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Of the total settlement amount, $100,000 is to cover the city's expenses in bringing the case, and another $100,000 will go to Los Angeles Family Services, a homeless service organization based in North Hollywood.  A spokesperson said it received confirmation only Wednesday, and has yet to determine how best to use the proceeds.  Family Services has assisted discharged homeless patients in previous cases of alleged dumping by hospitals. 

The largest portion, $500,000 represents a "civil penalty," according to City Attorney Feuer.  He did not elaborate on what becomes of those funds. 

The lawsuit is the third filed by Feuer’s office against a Southern California hospital this year.

In January, Bevery Hospital of Montebello agreed to a $250,000 settlement.  In May, Pacifica Hospital of the Valley agreed to settle for $500,000.

Patient dumping was highlighted as an issue  in 2006 when a security camera at the Union Rescue Mission downtown recorded a taxicab dropping off a woman still wearing her hospital gown.

In 2013, a Las Vegas hosital was accused of buying bus tickets on discharge of homeless patients to send them to Los Angeles.

The allegations against  Glendale Adventist surprised Rev. Andy Bales, CEO of the Union Rescue Mission.  He said the hospital had long impressed him with its diligence in placing homeless patients, and was personally aware of an occasion when a social worker had come in on her day off to make arrangements with the rescue mission to house an individual who was being discharged.

"All of staff involved in discharge planning have been given additional information and education on how to handle the discharge process in alignment with the Los Angeles City protocols," according to an email from Glendale Adventist spokesperson Alicia Gonzalez. 

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