Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dementia and Dumping

Not everyone with dementia has the privilege of living in a care facility or in the home of a family member.

In today's Los Angeles Times, the lead story is "L.A. Files Patient 'Dumping' Charges," about a lawsuit against Kaiser Permanente for dumping a 63-year-old woman with dementia onto Skid Row last March.,0,3911487.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Carol Reyes, a homeless woman, arrived by ambulance at a Kaiser hospital in Bellflower with facial wounds on March 17, 2006. Three days later she was driven 16 miles away to downtown LA, where she had never been before, and was left on a sidewalk wearing only a gown and socks.

After she wandered for a few minutes on the street, workers of the Union Rescue Mission took her in. A few days later she was sent to another hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia, anemia, and dementia.

I can't imagine what an already confused person would think of being left on a strange and dangerous street like that. My mother has such nightmares without even being exposed to real dangers.

California closed most of its mental hospitals some years ago, believing the care to be inadequate in many of them. But we have not made other provisions for our mentally ill population. Many older, confused people live in parks and wander the streets until they arrive at an emergency room or at the doorstep of a private charity like the Rescue Mission.

What should a concerned citizen do? Donate to charity? Call for a national health care plan? Please post your ideas.


kaiserfraud said...

This is the latest boxcar in a whole train of Kaiser problems over the last two weeks. For more info, see my blog

Novabella said...

A topic dear to my heart,and related to my work.

A national health care plan may help but it is not the whole answer. I live in Canada where we have insured health care. However, our system does not cover the complete cost of facility-based long term care. And just because acute care costs are covered, doesn't mean that there are safe, supportive environments for people to go to after they are discharged from acute care.

While hospitals here wouldn't likely get away with "dumping," I see the bigger problem as the lack of low income housing with supports and low income assisted living.

Developers LOVE to build those assisted living facilities, but they assume that everyone who needs them can afford to pay big bucks.