Man Was Shocked To Find Hospital Dumped Mentally Ill Patient In Hospital Gown At Bus Stop

A man happened to be passing by the University of Maryland Medical Center when he witnessed a horrific sight. He saw some guards from the hospital wheel out a woman wearing only a paper hospital gown and socks.

They left her at the bus stop, alone, at night, in near-freezing winter temperatures. When the man went to help the woman, he discovered that she couldn't even speak.

He's demanding answers.

Imamu Baraka, a professional counselor and life coach in Baltimore, was leaving his office late one night when he witnessed the disturbing patient dump. The hospital guards left the woman standing alone in the freezing cold to fend for herself.

Baraka quickly pulled out his phone and filmed the guards walking away. He says he filmed it to protect himself and the woman because he didn't think anyone would believe him when he told the story.

He questioned the guards about abandoning the woman, but they didn't respond and just walked away.

The Good Samaritan then went up to the woman to offer help. He was even more disturbed to find out the woman was non-verbal. She walked, hunching over, wailing and appeared to be in distress.

Had she been left alone she could have frozen to death in the plummeting temperatures.

Baraka called police and posted the video on Facebook. “I just witnessed this with my own eyes,” he said.

“I had no choice but to give this young lady a voice in this moment. You can do better, you must do better.”

The video quickly went viral. The hospital got a swift and hefty backlash, forcing them to respond.

“We share the shock and disappointment of many who have viewed the video showing the discharge of a patient from the Emergency Department of UMMC Midtown the night of January 9. This unfortunate event is not representative of our patient-centered mission," read a statement.

“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). We are taking this matter very seriously, conducting a thorough review, and are evaluating the appropriate response, including the possibility of personnel action.”

In a press conference, Dr. Mohan Suntha, the President/CEO of UMMC, thanked Baraka for intervening and admitted that the hospital failed the patient. Baraka doesn't doubt the sincerity, but admits that thanking him is in the hospital's best interest.

He's not interested in thanks; he wants them to 'fix it'.

Sadly, 'patient dumping' is not unusual for hospitals. Many across the country have been accused of simply leaving mentally ill or homeless patients on the streets, instead of calling authorities, social services or reaching out to family.

The practice has been going on since the 1800s for patients who could not afford care.

Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act in 1986, which prohibits ERs from denying services based on a person's ability to pay. Patients have to be stabilized before they can be transferred or discharged.

However, what is considered a fair discharge plan isn't clearly defined.

The Commission on Civil Rights investigated and reported that there is insufficient oversight of hospitals following regulations when it comes to patient dumping. They're calling for reform to increase oversight and training, and that would put in place better communications between hospitals and mental health services.

Source: Baltimore Sun, Little Things
Photo: Imamu Baraka/Facebook, TIME

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