A South Los Angeles nursing home will pay $450,000 to settle allegations of patient care violations, including dumping a diabetic man in a wheelchair at a skid row homeless shelter without his permission or his medicine, City Atty. Mike Feuer announced Thursday.
Ronald Anderson, 51, said that more than a year after he entered the Avalon Villa Health Care home in Willowbrook to recover from a partial foot amputation, staff members told him in April that they could no longer provide him care, put him in a van and dropped him at the Union Rescue Mission.
“They woke me up at 10 p.m. and said, ‘We’re shipping you out to a homeless shelter,’” Anderson said in an interview two months ago. “I told them: ‘You can’t do that, I can’t survive there.’ And these are people who are supposed to be helping you.”
In agreeing to the settlement, Avalon Villa did not admit the allegations or concede liability, Feuer said at a news conference.
Mark A. Johnson, a lawyer for Avalon Villa, said in an email that the center “strongly disputes that it has inappropriately discharged any patients” but settled to avoid litigation costs and to “preserve resources for its patients and staff rather than attorneys.”
Johnson also said the facility cannot discuss the care of Anderson or any other patient, but added that staff is already following many of the guidelines outlined in the settlement.
The Rev. Andy Bales, who heads the mission, said the nursing home did not disclose the severity of Anderson’s condition, or arrange for an orderly transfer.
“This was truly a life-and-death situation, leaving a diabetic without his insulin,” Bales said at the news conference. The mission had to buy Anderson a hospital bed, and Bales, who also has diabetes, was able to provide him with needles and medicine, he said.
“They dropped my bags at the door and took off like a thief in the night,” Anderson recalled.
In a civil complaint, Feuer’s office accused the nursing home over the last three years of unnecessarily transferring residents without advance notice or a care plan. Feuer said the facility in recent years also paid thousands of dollars to settle patient care violation allegations brought by the state public health agency.
“Patient dumping is inhumane and must be stopped,” Feuer said in a statement. “Leaving the most vulnerable patients to fend for themselves is unacceptable.”
Patient dumping has a long history on skid row, particularly at Union Rescue Mission, which at one point installed a “dumping cam” to catch medical and care providers in the act of transporting patients in medical gowns and bracelets to its doorstep. Feuer said he has obtained $4 million in patient-dumping settlements since taking office.
The nursing home will pay $75,000 in civil penalties, $325,000 to hire and train staff in homeless discharge planning protocols, and $50,000 to fund housing for homeless patients who are unable to find appropriate transfer settings, such as recuperative care facilities, Feuer said.
Anderson, who remains at the Union Rescue Mission, will not receive any of the settlement money, but the housing fund could be tapped to subsidize a place for him to live temporarily, authorities said.
Avalon Villa will also invite government agencies that can arrange housing into the facility, and maintain a nurse staffing ratio of 3.2 hours per day per patient, as required by state health code, according to the settlement terms.