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Long Beach hospital defends discharge of 84-year-old woman dumped at locked Alzheimer's facility
Orange County Register - 1/31/2019
Jan. 31--College Medical Center employees followed proper procedures last month when they discharged an 84-year-old woman with dementia, and then placed her in a cab that dropped her off at a locked Alzheimer's treatment center in the middle of the night, hospital officials said Wednesday.
"College Medical Center is committed to providing its patients with superior service and quality of care," the Long Beach hospital said in a statement. "College Medical Center fully complies with all regulations concerning patient discharge planning and transportation."
About 6 p.m.Jan. 12, Savina Genoese Zerbi threatened to kill herself with a nail file in the first week of her stay at Regency Palms, an assisted-living and memory-care facility in Long Beach, said her daughter, Costanza Genoese Zerbi.
She was transported by ambulance to College Medical Center, a 121-bed acute care hospital on Pacific Avenue.
Costanza Genoese Zerbi spent about four hours in College Medical Center's Emergency Room waiting for her mother to be evaluated, but left the hospital about 11 p.m. to attend to her children.
A short time later, she said, a hospital employee told her in a phone conversation her mother would be discharged and transported back to Regency Palms.
"I told him they needed to call Regency Palms and they would send a responsible person to collect her at the hospital or to receive her (at the assisted-care facility)," Costanza Genoese Zerbi said. "I didn't feel safe transporting her in my car."
She was shocked to later learn Community Medical Center apparently put her mother in a cab that dumped her off outside of Regency Palms on Eighth Street on in the early hours of Jan. 13.
Security video shows Savina Genoese Zerbi, clad in a bathrobe and sandals, frantically trying for 25 minutes to get inside the locked facility.
It's unclear how long she remained outdoors or how she gained entry to Regency Palms. Christine Tomlinson, executive director of Regency Palms, declined to comment Wednesday.
College Medical Center said patients have a right to choose their method of transportation upon discharge from the hospital.
"This particular patient denied College Medical Center's assistance with transportation and insisted that she be taken to her place of residence via public transportation," the hospital said in its statement.
The statement goes on to say College Medical Center "timely and properly" notified Savina Genoese Zerbi's family and Regency Palms that she was being discharged.
However, Costanza Genoese Zerbi said her mother had no money with her to pay for cab fare, is mentally incapacitated and can't make decisions for herself.
"Whoever decided my mother was safe to make decisions for herself should not have a medical license," she said. "The hospital can't walk away until they say she is in the hands of someone who is able to take responsibility. Putting her in public transportation is not taking responsibility for her."
Costanza Genoese Zerbi, who has filed a complaint with the California Department of Public Health, said she initially planned to meet with Community Medical Center officials to discuss the issue, but has canceled the meeting in light of the hospital's statement.
"I don't believe they have any intention of improving their operation," she said.
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