Hospital accused of dumping patient in L.A.'s skid row to pay $500,000

In this 2006 photo, ambulance workers drop off a man in skid row at the Volunteers of America Downtown Drop In Center. A police report said the man had wanted to be taken to a Pasadena convalescent home.
(Los Angeles Police Department)

A Sun Valley hospital accused of dumping a mentally disabled patient in the skid row area of Los Angeles will pay $500,000 to local homeless service providers in an agreement reached with the city.

Pacifica Hospital of the Valley has also agreed to adopt “thorough and humane discharge policies” following the January incident, in which a patient with a “grave mental disability” was allegedly left in downtown L.A., according to a statement from City Atty. Mike Feuer.

As part of the agreement, the hospital did not admit any wrongdoing. The money will go to the Union Rescue Mission, Midnight Mission, L.A. Family Housing and related organizations.

“Patient dumping has no place in our society, and my office will do everything possible to end this inhumane practice,” Feuer said.


The agreement is the latest the city attorney’s office has reached with hospitals accused of patient dumping. In January, the 224-bed Beverly Hospital in Montebello agreed to pay $250,000 in civil penalties and legal fees after it was accused of taking a patient by taxi to skid row and leaving her there without making arrangements with a shelter.

In 2005 and 2006, patient dumping in skid row, an area the Union Rescue Mission defines as being bounded by 3rd, 7th, Alameda and Main streets, grabbed national headlines with images of mentally ill patients in hospital gowns, one holding a colostomy bag, being dropped off in ambulances, taxis and vans.

City prosecutors began aggressively pursuing criminal and civil cases against medical facilities that left homeless patients at shelters.

The city forced several large hospitals and chains, including Kaiser Permanente, to pay massive civil penalties and agree to tough new regulations and, in some cases, even an independent monitor.

A trade group for 170 Southern California hospitals has agreed to consider adopting new rules to stop homeless patient dumping on skid row, Feuer said Thursday.

The rules, which grew out of a $500,000 settlement Pacifica Hospital of the Valley reached with the city, requires hospitals to personally deliver homeless patients to a home or facility with an appropriate aftercare plan, and someone present to accept them.

Discharge to a homeless shelter should be a last resort, the regulations state.

Pacifica, a 242-bed acute care hospital in Sun Valley, in January allegedly discharged a man with a grave mental disability and dropped him off on skid row, Feuer said in a written statement.


The hospital is not a member of the Hospital Assn. of Southern California, which Feuer said had agreed to a June 23 symposium to consider the new protocols.

“Patient dumping has no place in any society that wants to call itself civilized,” Feuer said at a news conference.