Police probe alleged L.A. homeless dumping

Patient is taken from ambulance to homeless shelter in skid row area of downtown Los Angeles
Johnny Williams, on stretcher, is taken from an ambulance to a homeless shelter in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles on Oct. 22, 2006. Police said Williams was one of five patients from the L.A. Metropolitan Medical Center who were photographed and videotaped by police being dropped off on skid row against their will.Los Angeles Police Department / via Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

A hospital van dropped off a paraplegic man on Skid Row, allegedly leaving him crawling in the street with nothing more than a soiled gown and a broken colostomy bag, police said.

Witnesses who said they saw the incident Thursday wrote down a phone number on the van and took down its license-plate number, which helped detectives connect the vehicle to Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site.

Police said the incident was a case of “homeless dumping” and were questioning officials from the hospital.

“I can’t think of anything colder than that,” said Detective Russ Long. “There was no mission around, no services. It’s the worst area of Skid Row.”

The case comes three months after the L.A. city attorney’s office filed its first indictment for homeless dumping against Kaiser Permanente for an incident earlier last year. In the earlier case, a 63-year-old patient from the hospital’s Bellflower medical center was videotaped wandering the streets of Skid Row in a hospital gown and socks.

Dan Springer, a spokesman for Hollywood Presbyterian, did not confirm or deny that the van carrying the homeless man came from his medical center but said an internal investigation was under way.

“We have, as do all hospitals, vans that transport patients. It’s a contracted service. We are ... looking into all the facts,” he said Friday.

“These are very serious allegations. Our goal is to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. If we determine a mistake of this magnitude was made, we will respond swiftly and appropriately,” Springer said.

He did not know if hospital officials had been questioned by police, but added, “this hospital will cooperate with all and any officials.”

City officials have accused more than a dozen hospitals of dumping patients and criminals on Skid Row. Hospital officials have denied the allegations, but some said they had taken homeless patients to Skid Row service providers.

In 2005, Hollywood Presbyterian was accused of homeless dumping. At the time, a top executive denied the charge, but said Skid Row service providers offered treatment and care for some patients who had nowhere else to go.