Woman dumped into the night in a hospital gown casts spotlight on emergency room practices
(Andrea K. McDaniels, The Baltimore Sun) A viral video showing Baltimore hospital security guards leaving a disoriented-looking patient from the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown on the street wearing only a thin hospital gown and socks is raising questions about how hospitals discharge the mentally ill and homeless.
The widely shared video, posted to Facebook by Imamu Baraka, has sparked outrage on social media. Hospital officials said they are investigating the incident and that they may take personnel action.
Hospital officials have not said why the woman, who was being discharged from the emergency room, was admitted to the hospital. Or why she was left out in the cold near a public transit bus stop.
The unidentified woman appeared to be unable to speak in the video that made national and international headlines and was widely shared on social media.
It was unclear if she was suffering from a mental illness, or homeless. Baraka, who is listed as a mental health counselor in an online professional profile, attempts to speak to her, but she doesn’t answer him.
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Some mental health experts, including, Adrienne Breidenstine of Behavioral Health System Baltimore, which oversees substance use and mental health treatment in the city, said the woman appears to be actively symptomatic.
“Something was clearly going on,” Breidenstine said.
She said that discharge policies for people who are homeless or mentally ill varies from hospital to hospital. Some facilities have better relationships with social service agencies than others, Breidenstine said.
Breidenstine said more mental health services in the community could help prevent patients from ending up in emergency rooms.
The issue of people being put out of hospitals is a nationwide issue called “hospital dumping.”
Two Howard University police officers and their supervisor were fired in May after being recorded dumping a patient from a wheelchair outside the university’s hospital.
A video of the incident showed a male officer pushing the barefoot woman to a bus stop. Two other officers watched as she fell onto the sidewalk.
It is unclear how much hospital dumping happens in Baltimore because incidences are not tracked.
“This incident is very visual because it happened on camera,” Breidenstine said. “I am sure it happens more than we know. But it is hard to know how much because we don’t have the data.”
The video shows what looks like four security guards, one with a wheelchair, walking away from a bus stop outside the hospital on the outskirts of Mount Vernon. A woman is seen near the bus stop dressed in a gown and socks. Her belongings are packed in plastic bags that have also been placed at the bus stop.
“I just witnessed this with my own eyes,” Baraka wrote in his post. “I had no choice but to give this young lady a voice in this moment.”
Hospital: ‘We clearly failed …’
Officials with the University of Maryland Medical System said in a statement that they are investigating the incident, which took place Tuesday night.
They said they shared the “shock and disappointment” that others who saw the video probably felt. The woman was being discharged from the emergency department, they said.
“This unfortunate event is not representative of our patient-centered mission,” the statement said.
“While there are many circumstances of this patient’s case that we cannot address publicly, in the end we clearly failed to fulfill our mission with this patient, no matter the circumstances of her case or the quality of the clinical care we provided in the hospital (which is not depicted in the video).”
Baraka could not be reached for comment. He is heard in the video asking the hospital’s security officers several times why they put the woman out of the hospital.
“Y’all are just going to leave this lady out here with no clothes?” Baraka asks, noting how cold it is outside.
One of the guards eventually responds: “Due to the circumstances of what happened.”
Baraka then asks why they don’t call police. He also asks to speak to a supervisor. One of the security workers responds that he is the supervisor.
Baraka asks the woman, who looks disoriented, if she needs help. She screams and moves her hands around but doesn’t talk.
In his Facebook post, Baraka admonishes the hospital for how the woman was treated.
“University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus as a Doctor of Healthcare Administration student — may I remind you of the importance of the VISION of your MEDICAL CENTER,” he wrote. ” ‘UMMC will be known for providing high value and compassionate care, improving health in Maryland and beyond, educating future health care leaders and discovering innovative ways to advance medicine worldwide.’ You can do better. You must do better.”
Hospital officials said they are still working to determine how to respond.
“We are taking this matter very seriously, conducting a thorough review, and are evaluating the appropriate response, including the possibility of personnel action,” the statement said. Displayed with permission from Tribune Content Agency via Repubhub. Read this next: Once Doctors Saw THIS, They Had to Let Him Go