Hospital sued for patient dumping
Shirley Hawkins | 1/23/2008, 5 p.m.
Gabino Olvera, 41, was dressed in a hospital gown when he was ushered into an ambulance and driven away from Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (HPMC) last year.
Olvera was transported to Los Angeles' Skid Row. According to a lawsuit filed by Olvera's lawyers, he was told to get out, forcing him to drag himself toward the curb with a bag of his possessions clenched in his teeth. Witnesses gathered and began demanding help for Olvera, but the suit alleges that the driver, Finese Mathis, cursed him, saying that he had soiled her van. Mathis, who worked for Empire Transportation Inc., allegedly applied makeup and perfume before driving off, nearly hitting Olvera.
Olvera, dragging a colostomy bag, crawled to a gutter space.
"They treated him like refuse at the hospital when they dumped him in the gutter," said Attorney Mark D. Rosenbaum, who is representing Olvera along with Attorney Steven Archer.
According to news reports, Civil rights lawyerss filed a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Olvera which asks for unspecified punitive and compensatory damages against HPMC for alleged negligence, elder abuse, and infliction of emotional distress.
Olvera was taken to the hospital after being in an automobile accident. Once admitted, the complaint charges that HPMC officials failed to diagnose and treat him for a urinary tract infection or notice that he was suffering from apparent signs of mental illness.
After waiting several hours, Olvera was taken by ambulance at 12:30 a.m. to the Midnight Mission in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles. The mission staff noted that Olvera did not have a wheelchair and they did not have the facilities to deal with Olvera's medical conditions.
According to the suit, Olvera was driven back to Hollywood Presbyterian and placed in a wheelchair. For the next eight hours, Olvera sat unattended with no food or water.
The next morning, Olvera was placed in a van and driven to Skid Row.
"When you tell the average person this they are completely shocked that a hospital would treat a human being this way," said Hernan D. Vera, an attorney at Public Counsel and one of the plaintiff's lawyers. "Mr. Olvera is personally committed to seeing the hospital shape up and do the right thing by changing its discharge policy toward the homeless."