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Incomplete care

Compassion | Hospitals face millions in fines for dumping patients
by Rob Holmes
Posted 7/11/18, 03:16 pm

A Los Angeles hospital agreed to a $550 million settlement this week after records showed a history of patient dumping. Silver Lake Medical Center discharged hundreds of homeless and indigent patients to public places like bus or train stations rather than to shelters and appropriate care facilities.

An investigation of transportation records revealed more than 750 cases of unlawful patient discharge.

“It’s shameful for a hospital to be dumping people out and essentially saying, ‘I don’t care what happens to you next,’” said Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.

The 118-bed psychiatric hospital has two medical campuses in Los Angeles, a city known for its “Skid Row” neighborhood, where officials have noted patient dumping for at least a decade. In an infamous 2007 case, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid out $1 million after a paraplegic man was found crawling on the street where the hospital had left him without a wheelchair. In 2014, Los Angeles’ Good Samaritan Hospital had to fork out $450,000 after leaving a homeless man on the street following treatment for a foot injury.

The practice of illegally discharging patients has continued despite the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act, signed by President Ronald Reagan, which prohibits hospitals from transferring or discharging patients without stabilizing them, in addition to accreditation requirements specifying hospitals must create discharge plans.

Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer said his office has won other settlements with medical facilities totaling $4 million for eight cases of unlawful discharge of homeless patients. He and Lacey plan to meet this summer with Los Angeles healthcare providers, police, and social services to work toward the humane treatment of homeless or mentally ill hospital patients.

Associated Press/Photo by Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times Associated Press/Photo by Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times Protesters on Interstate 94 in Chicago on Saturday

Gun protesters complete risky march

A Catholic priest on Saturday led hundreds of people in a gun violence protest on a busy Chicago highway.

The group—gathered under the leadership of the Rev. Michael Pfleger and hailing from Chicago and Parkland, Fla.—marched in the northbound lanes of Interstate 94, known locally as the Dan Ryan Expressway. They said the march was to support “national common sense gun laws,” though signs carried by participants also read, “We need jobs” and “Stop the drug wars.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, exhorted motorists to watch for marchers and warned on Twitter against “more senseless loss of life.” The Illinois State Police, Chicago Police Department, and Illinois Department of Transportation provided personnel to work on the expressway and ensure safety. Officials initially left two lanes open for drivers, using a barricade mostly formed by parked vehicles to protect the protesters. But Pfleger and fellow marcher and activist Jesse Jackson later persuaded authorities to give up the motorists lanes for a total shutdown, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Rauner later condemned the protesters for choosing “to cause chaos” instead of “respecting law and order.” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, fired back, showing his support for the march because of its anti-violence agenda. —R.H.

Associated Press/Photo by Paul Sancya Associated Press/Photo by Paul Sancya Ever Reyes Mejia of Honduras carries his son after being reunited and released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Case by case

A rundown of where the U.S. government stands in meeting court demands to reunite illegal immigrant children with their parents:

  • The federal government began with a list of 102 children under age 5 who needed to be placed back with parents by a deadline on Tuesday.
  • Using documents and DNA tests, they whittled the list to 75 children eligible for reunification.
  • Thirty-eight of those children were guaranteed reunification Tuesday, and 17 others could have qualified if DNA results and parents’ background checks came through in time. It’s still not clear how many of those children got back to their parents Tuesday.
  • The Trump administration said it needs more time to track down the parents of the other 20 children.
  • The government faces a second deadline of July 26 to reunite between 2,000 and 3,000 older children with their families. —Lynde Langdon
Rob Holmes

Rob is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute’s mid-career course. Follow Rob on Twitter @SouthernFlyer.

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