BALTIMORE, MD — Officials are investigating after a woman in distress was left on the streets of Baltimore this week wearing a hospital gown. The head of the University of Maryland Medical Center has apologized, and the patient’s mother has said her daughter is being treated elsewhere.
Imamu Baraka, a psychotherapist whose office is across the street from the hospital, recorded video Tuesday night that brought the disturbing case to light.
In the video, workers from the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Midtown Campus dropped off a woman by wheelchair to a bus stop. The woman appeared disoriented. It was between 30 and 40 degrees outside, and she was wearing socks and a hospital gown that was not secured. Two plastic bags containing her belongings were set nearby.
Baraka said that he recorded the video because he could not believe what he was seeing and did not think others would either unless he had evidence.
“I had no choice but to give this young lady a voice in this moment,” Baraka said of his Facebook video, which has been viewed more than 2.6 million times in a few days.
“…now she is getting things she could not get before because of this video,” he told the Associated Press.
The patient’s mother told media that her daughter is receiving care at another medical center for her condition.
“My daughter has mental illness,” the mother told CBS News, adding that when she tried to contact the University of Maryland Medical Center after seeing the video on Facebook: “Every person that I talked to at the hospital either hung up on me or told me to email the hospital…”
Her 22-year-old daughter has schizoaffective disorder: bipolar type and Asperger’s syndrome and was discharged from a residential facility on Christmas Eve for refusing to take her medication, she said in an interview with CBS. Due to privacy laws, she said she had not been able to get information about her daughter’s situation and has been trying to become her guardian.
The 22-year-old was taken from the University of Maryland Medical Center to a homeless shelter by taxi, where her family was able to track her down with help from the police, according to WJZ, which said her relatives also reported her as a missing person when she disappeared.
The office, a division of the Maryland Department of Health, is tasked with monitoring standards of care.is looking into the , the news station reported. The
The University of Maryland Medical Center says it is reviewing the incident as well.
The head of the hospital said that the woman received “appropriate medical care” at the hospital, stating the discharge process was where problems occurred.
“We believe firmly that we provided appropriate medical care to a patient who came to us in need,” Dr. Mohan Muntha, president/CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center, said at a press conference, “but where we absolutely failed, and where we own that failure, is in the demonstration of basic humanity and compassion as a patient was being discharged from our organization after having received that care.”
Added Muntha: “We do not believe that what occurred Tuesday night in any way defines who we are as an organization.”
The NAACP is calling for an investigation into the hospital and its treatment of patients, according to WJZ, ordering it to stop immediately the practice of dumping vulnerable patients onto the street.
What is known as “patient dumping” is not limited to Baltimore, and 60 Minutes showed it happening in Los Angeles in 2007. In that expose, Kaiser Permanente issued an apology similar to the University of Maryland after it was connected to the practice of leaving homeless people on the street, in one case with a gown and a diaper.
Patient dumping has also been publicized in Washington, D.C., where The Washington Post reported on an instance at Howard University Hospital in May 2017.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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