A couple of years ago at The Revolution, I wrote about accusations that some hospitals in Los Angeles had been dumping indigent and homeless patients on Skid Row but couldn’t be charged with anything because it wasn’t actually a crime to do that. Yesterday, a bill was introduced in the California State Senate that would require hospitals to discharge homeless patients to any place they designate as “home”.
For a year, reports have surfaced that hospitals here have left homeless patients on downtown streets, including a paraplegic man wearing a hospital gown and colostomy bag who witnesses say pulled himself through the streets with a plastic bag of his belongings held in his teeth.
Advocates for the homeless said it was common in many cities for homeless people still requiring medical treatment to end up on the street or at the doors of shelters ill prepared for their medical needs.
“Hospitals don’t know what to do with them, and they think it’s the homeless agencies’ responsibility,” said Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, a Washington advocacy group.
Mr. Stoops said local and federal laws were murky, at best, over where homeless patients should be discharged.
The proposed California law, written by members of Mr. Delgadillo’s staff and introduced by Senator Gilbert A. Cedillo, a Democrat from Los Angeles, would require hospitals to transport discharged patients to their residence or, if they lack one, to the place they identify as their home, typically a shelter.
“There currently is no law making dumping homeless hospital patients on Skid Row a crime,” Mr. Delgadillo said Thursday at a news conference. “What we really need is legal clarity that specifically prohibits it.”
This is canary-in-the-coal-mine stuff, to some extent. Though you won’t read it in the press, naturally, the homeless problem has been growing by leaps and bounds the last 6 years. (more…)