Second nationwide instance of alleged 'patient dumping' of a homeless man at California hospital stirs debate

A video depicting a homeless man in a wheelchair who was reportedly discharged from Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Dignity Health-Dominican Hospital late at night Jan. 11 and left at a bus stop wearing nothing but a hospital gown has sparked a debate about the quality of care provided to the area's homeless population, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports.

Police told the publication Jan. 12 authorities were called to the bus stop outside the hospital shortly after midnight Thursday after a city bus driver said the homeless man's wheelchair would not fit on the bus, according to the report. Police reportedly got in touch with Brent Adams, program director for the Santa Cruz Warming Center Program, a community-funded organization that provides supplies to the homeless population in the Santa Cruz area, to seek out space at the emergency shelter for the homeless man.

Upon arrival at the bus stop, Mr. Adams posted a video to his organization's Facebook page Jan. 11 documenting the homeless man's situation.

"A hospital smock for a person who's an XXL large is virtual nudity,"  Mr. Adams told the Santa Cruz Sentinel Jan. 12. "Nobody that I know of would have left him in that condition. They'd say, let's wrap him up. No matter what he did, they still left him naked at the bus stop at 11 p.m."

A spokesperson from Dignity Health-Dominican Hospital declined to discuss the particulars of the homeless man's case with the Santa Cruz Sentinel Friday, citing patient privacy laws and hospital policy. When asked generally about the discharge of a homeless patient, the spokesperson told the publication, "every situation is different. Emergency room patients are offered food, clothing and access to transportation and housing resources, if needed."

"Dominican Hospital works with several organizations in the community to provide resources for those in need," the spokesperson continued.

The incident represents the second instance of "patient dumping" that has taken place nationwide. Last week, Baltimore-based University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus verified footage and issued an apology about a viral video posted online depicting hospital security guards leaving a woman at a bus stop wearing only a hospital gown and socks.

Editor's note: Becker's Hospital Review reached out to Dignity Health-Dominican Hospital for comment and will update the article as more information becomes available.

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