In the latest case of Southern California patient dumping, Public Counsel and attorney Steven D. Archer of Kiesel, Boucher & Larson LLP filed a lawsuit on Friday, February 3, against White Memorial Medical Center and Dr. Michael Hernandez.
The lawsuit centers on Jesse Bravo, a married father of four who worked as a machinist in the aerospace industry before he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia nine years ago. He now lives with his wife and family, who care for him.
Mr. Bravo had been a patient at White Memorial for two weeks prior to February 11, 2011, when hospital personnel discharged him without his consent or his family’s knowledge. Mr. Bravo’s wife of 36 years, Laura Bravo, had called the hospital daily and had visited her husband regularly during this hospitalization, yet the hospital failed to include her in the discharge planning, failed to inform her that he was going to be discharged and failed to inform her that he had been discharged.
Laura Bravo arrived at the hospital on February 11 to find he had been discharged hours before. “I kept asking hospital staff, ‘Where is my husband?’ ” she recalled. “I was panicking. For 36 years, we always knew where each other were, but suddenly he was gone.”
• Hospital personnel handcuffed Mr. Bravo with plastic restraints and put him into a van even while he protested and asked to be taken to his family.
• He was dropped off on the sidewalk in front of a transitional living facility near Leimert Park in Los Angeles, but the van driver failed to take him into the facility and did not make sure that he was admitted as a resident. Instead, Mr. Bravo was abandoned and he wound up wandering the streets of Skid Row for two nights without warm clothing, money, identification or medication.
• After he was dumped and during the time he wandered the streets in Skid Row, Mr. Bravo was attacked and suffered a dislocated shoulder that required surgery and extensive recovery.
On Sunday, February 13, 2011, police officers found Mr. Bravo on Skid Row attempting to climb into a van that resembled his wife’s, apparently in a desperate attempt to find his way home. Mr. Bravo and his wife were reunited on Valentine’s Day. “I was so thankful that he was alive,” Mrs. Bravo said.
“Mr. Bravo was drugged and then dumped by a hospital that did not want to care for him,” said Patrick Dunlevy, director of Public Counsel’s consumer law project. “In their rush to push Mr. Bravo out the door, the hospital staff missed all the stop signs that should have protected him.”
“Mr. Bravo is not the typical victim of patient dumping, yet his case is an example of exactly what can go wrong when a hospital decides to dump a patient,” said attorney Steven Archer of Kiesel, Boucher & Larson LLP, who is also a Public Counsel board member. “He was not homeless, but the hospital’s actions made him homeless.”
Mr. Bravo’s discharge was just part of the poor care he received at White Memorial. During the two weeks he spent in the hospital, Mr. Bravo received minimal treatment and made minimal progress.