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April 09, 2009

College Hospital to pay $1.6 million in homeless dumping settlement

Los Angeles Times | By Cara Mia DiMassa and Richard Winton


Doctors at College Hospital diagnosed Steven Davis as suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder. Doctors at the Costa Mesa mental institution prescribed him numerous drugs to deal with paranoid delusions that had led to an earlier suicide attempt.

But that didn't stop the hospital from hauling Davis into a van and driving him more than 40 miles north to downtown L.A., where they dropped him off outside the Union Rescue Mission. When mission officials complained to the hospital, the van returned and drove Davis a few miles south to another shelter. Davis wandered away without ever entering.

Davis turned out to be the key to uncovering what Los Angeles prosecutors described as the largest case of homeless dumping they've investigated to date.

In a settlement announced Wednesday, the L.A. city attorney's office said that College Hospital had dumped more than 150 mentally ill patients on skid row -- long a magnet for the region's most vulnerable citizens -- in 2007 and 2008.

As part of the settlement, the hospital will pay $1.6 million in penalties and charitable contributions to a host of psychiatric and social-service agencies. The hospital also agreed to a first-of-its-kind injunction that prohibits it from transporting any homeless psychiatric patient discharged from their facilities to the streets or any shelter within an established "Patient Safety Zone," a swath of downtown and South Los Angeles where most of the region's homeless shelters and missions are concentrated.

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