BALTIMORE, MD — Officials are investigating after a woman in distress was left on the streets of Baltimore this week wearing a hospital gown. The head of the University of Maryland Medical Center has apologized, and the patient’s mother has said her daughter is being treated elsewhere.
Imamu Baraka, a psychotherapist studying health care administration whose office is across the street from the hospital, recorded video of the patient left at a bus stop Tuesday night.
In the video, a woman who appeared disoriented and in distress was dropped off by workers from the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Midtown Campus with two plastic bags. It was between 30 and 40 degrees, and she was wearing socks and a hospital gown that was not secured.
Baraka said that he recorded the video because he could not believe what he was seeing and did not think others would either unless he had evidence.
“I had no choice but to give this young lady a voice in this moment,” Baraka said with the video on Facebook, which has been viewed more than 2.6 million times in a few days.
“…now she is getting things she could not get before because of this video,” he told the Associated Press.
The patient’s mother told media that her daughter is receiving care elsewhere for her condition.
“My daughter has mental illness,” the woman’s mother told CBS News. “Every person that I talked to at the hospital either hung up on me or told me to email the hospital” when she said she saw the video and realized it was her daughter and tried to get information regarding her whereabouts.
Her 22-year-old daughter has schizoaffective disorder: bipolar type and Asperger’s syndrome and was discharged from a residential facility on Christmas Eve for refusing to take her medication, she said in an interview with CBS. Due to privacy laws, she said she had not been able to get information about her daughter’s whereabouts and has been trying to become her guardian.
According to WJZ, the 22-year-old was taken from the University of Maryland Medical Center to a homeless shelter by taxi, where her family was able to track her down with help from the police.
The University of Maryland Medical Center issued a statement saying that it was reviewing the case, including the staff involved.
The head of the hospital said that the woman received “appropriate medical care” at the hospital and it was the discharge process where there were problems.
“We believe firmly that we provided appropriate medical care to a patient who came to us in need, but where we absolutely failed, and where we own that failure, is in the demonstration of basic humanity and compassion as a patient was being discharged from our organization after having received that care,” Dr. Mohan Muntha, president/CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center, said at a press conference.
“We do not believe that what occurred Tuesday night in any way defines who we are as an organization. There has been a lot of conversation since this incident came to light,” Suntha said.
According to WJZ, the NAACP is also calling for an investigation into the hospital and its treatment of patients and has ordered an end to the practice of “patient dumping.”
According to CBS, the practice known as “patient dumping” is not limited to Baltimore, and 60 Minutes showed it happening in Los Angeles in 2007. In that expose, Kaiser Permanente issued an apology similar to the University of Maryland after it was connected to the practice of leaving homeless people on the street, in one case with a gown and a diaper.
Patient dumping has also been reported in Washington, D.C., where The Washington Post reported on an instance at Howard University Hospital in May 2017.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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