Complaint: Dementia patient discharged in taxi, left outside

January 30, 2019

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A complaint against a Southern California hospital says an elderly woman with dementia was placed in a taxi after treatment and dropped off outside her residence at a memory-care facility in the middle of the night.

The woman’s daughter, Costanza Genoese Zerbi, filed the complaint with the California Department of Public Health against College Medical Center of Long Beach, Southern California News Group reports.

Security video shows 84-year-old Savina Genoese Zerbi attempting to open the front door to the Regency Palms care home at 2:17 a.m. Jan. 13, and then pacing an alley and repeatedly returning to the door before somehow gaining entry.

In a statement, College Medical Center said it complies with all regulations concerning patient discharge and adds that the woman denied an offer of assistance with transportation and “insisted that she be taken to her place of residence via public transportation.”

However, the hospital said it plans to meet with Zerbi’s family to discuss the issue.

Costanza Genoese Zerbi said her mother was taken to the hospital because she threatened to kill herself at 6 p.m. on Jan. 12, during her first week at Regency Palms.

The daughter spent about four hours at College Medical Center waiting for her mother to be evaluated, but then left around 11 p.m. to attend to her children, the news group reported.

She said that when she arrived home she received a phone call from a hospital clinician who indicated her mother would be discharged and he would coordinate her transportation back to the care home.

William Young, a geriatric consultant hired by the daughter, said he tried unsuccessfully to reach the clinician by phone after midnight to determine how the woman would be transported to Regency Palms and when she would arrive.

Young went to bed about 2 a.m. and learned six hours later from a Regency Palms employee that a taxi had dropped the woman off outside of the locked facility.

College Medical Center said it notified a family member and the care home that Zerbi was being discharged.

Christine Tomlinson, executive director of Regency Palms, declined to comment Tuesday, citing federal law that protects the rights of the facility’s residents, the news group reported.

State health officials on Tuesday issued a statement about the complaint process.

“The California Department of Public Health investigates all complaints or facility-reported incidents which may violate any state law or regulation within CDPH’s authority to enforce,” the agency said. “Details about any potential pending or ongoing investigation are kept confidential until the investigation is complete and findings are issued to the facility. There is currently an ongoing investigation at this facility.”

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