A woman who appeared to be wearing nothing but socks and a hospital gown was discharged from a Baltimore hospital on a cold winter night and left alone at a bus stop.
A passer-by filmed the woman late Tuesday evening and posted several videos on Facebook shortly after midnight. In them, people in dark uniforms can be seen walking into the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Midtown Campus with an empty wheelchair, leaving the woman alone on the sidewalk.
The woman appears to have trouble keeping her balance and communicating. She barely speaks during the videos, which total about 11 minutes. But she does scream, and her breath condenses in the cold air in front of her.
The man filming, Imamu Baraka, finds her belongings in plastic bags at the bus stop and encourages her to sit down.
“This is disgusting that they would just leave her unattended on a bus stop, half naked,” he said in the video. “And it’s got to be at least 40 degrees, if not colder.”
Mr. Baraka, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment, stopped filming and called emergency responders. An ambulance eventually arrived to take the woman back to the hospital.
“We share the shock and disappointment of many who have viewed the video showing the discharge of a patient” from emergency care, a hospital spokeswoman said in an emailed statement on Thursday. “This unfortunate event is not representative of our patient-centered mission. For this, we are truly sorry.”
She added that a review was underway to evaluate “the appropriate response, including the possibility of personnel action.”
The hospital spokeswoman did not comment on what the woman had been treated for, citing patient privacy laws.
The practice of discharging patients who may not have a place to go is sometimes referred to as “patient-dumping,” and it has happened across the country. The issue comes up often in California, which is home to more than one-quarter of the total homeless population in the United States.
Mr. Baraka, who said in the video that he is a psychotherapist, said the woman should not have been discharged in the first place.
“I am still looking at this, and I am really wondering as to what’s going to happen here,” he added. “I’m disgusted by the lack of empathy that I’m seeing displayed.”
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