In Los Angeles, nursing homes have been abandoning mentally debilitated or medically intensive patients in the downtown area known as Skid Row. The practice, nicknamed LA patient dumping, occurs for many reasons, but ultimately, it happens far too often.
Nursing homes make difficult decisions on a regular basis due to practical concerns such as staffing or fiscal resources. Sometimes, the decisions completely transcend what is acceptable.
Skid Row’s Part in LA Patient Dumping
In downtown Los Angeles, there’s a 54-block area designated as “Skid Row.” Skid Row has a complicated political and economic history, but according to aid groups such as the Union Rescue Mission, it is the natural result of an individual’s journey along the American way.
“American culture promotes opportunities for people to succeed or fail on their own — while providing a safety net for people who do not succeed,” the Union Rescue Mission writes. “Many of these social services are located downtown.”
Beginning as a nexus for transient culture, Skid Row was the last place to get off trains that spanned the country in the late 19th century. The area operated with an economy scaled to transient people without much in the way of finance, and eventually, many people who were down on their luck found their way to Skid Row.
Things changed in the late 20th century with initiatives like the 1975 Redevelopment Plan, which enacted a “Policy of Containment” on Skid Row.
The idea behind the policy wasn’t inherently malicious: concentrate social services and the people who need them in the area that most of them already occupied. The goal of the policy was to stabilize and centralize the area to make services more accessible, but it also created an area that had the most concentrated populations of impoverished and homeless citizens by design.
It is in this center of need and destitution that nursing homes employ LA patient dumping.
The Stories of LA Patient Dumping
In the past two years, LA patient dumping has caught the attention of prosecutors and law-enforcement as it creates a public safety risk. One of the recent cases handled by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer was the LA patient dumping suit filed against Lakeview Terrace Skilled Nursing Facility.
Last February, the Westlake facility was charged with improperly discharging mentally impaired or homeless residents into the city. The facility was found severely lacking in the treatment of these patients, failing to meet the legal standards for quality of care.
For the charge of LA patient dumping, Lakeview Terrace Skilled Nursing Facility has agreed to pay a series of fines and charges. These fines include:
- A $600,000 settlement for allegations that it improperly discharged homeless and mentally-impaired clients
- A $200,000 allocation over the next three years to hire and train a director of resident care and compliance and any other related staff, to oversee discharge planning policies
- $200,000 in penalties
- $50,000 to cover housing expenses for patients who cannot afford it following discharge
The expectation following these fines and expenses is that Lakeview Terrace Skilled Nursing Facility will maintain more ethical practices, cease LA patient dumping and ensure proper measures of care are made following resident discharge.
Unfortunately, while the Westlake facility may have received penalties for their actions, there are still many victims of LA patient dumping that have not been so lucky. One example of these victims is Ronald Anderson, a 51-year-old diabetic man who was wheelchair-bound.
Anderson came to Avalon Villa Health Care after he had a partial foot amputation. Over a year later, one night in April, Anderson claimed, “They woke me up at 10 p.m. and said, ‘We’re shipping you out to a homeless shelter,'” according to the LA Times.
The facility then dropped Roland Anderson, a diabetic with mobility challenges, on the doorstep of the Union Rescue Mission and left “like a thief in the night.”
According to Reverend Andy Bales, the man who found Anderson, “This was truly a life-and-death situation, leaving a diabetic without his insulin.” Though they agreed to a settlement, Avalon Villa Health Care claims to have never contributed to the issue of LA patient dumping. Their rationale was that they were simply making this time-consuming issue go away.
In June 2018, attorney Mike Feuer settled a $450,000 case against Avalon Villa Health Care for their part in the LA patient dumping problem.
Solutions for LA Patient Dumping
Attorneys like Mike Feuer are doing the best that they can to bring nursing homes to justice if they contribute to the wave of LA patient dumping. However, there are also steps that can be taken by everyday individuals.
For those who may be concerned about their loved ones becoming homeless, be sure to check in often. Always hold the nursing home responsible for knowing your loved one’s location and condition at all times.
For unaffected individuals hoping to help the problem, consider volunteering or contributing to the Union Rescue Mission to help them to continue to assist people who have been stranded in Skid Row against their will.
As a united community, people can come together and stop LA patient dumping wherever it may emerge.