BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A viral video that reportedly shows a woman being left outside of a Baltimore emergency center has led to an investigation by a Maryland health agency.
The Maryland Office of Health Care Quality says it is investigating after a pedestrian captured the incident, in which he says staff at the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown campus left the woman — only in her hospital gown — near a bus stop in about 30-40 degree weather Wednesday night. The agency is a division within the Maryland Department of Health responsible for monitoring the quality of care in the state’s health care facilities and community-based programs.
Dr. Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus, said at a news conference Thursday the hospital “failed” and there are no excuses for what happened to the woman.
WJZ spoke with the patient’s mother, who is extremely distraught. She says her 22-year-old daughter, Rebecca, was left out in the cold and she had to contact police just to track her down.
The mother also said she reported her daughter missing last month, and she was taken by cab to a shelter the night she was left at the bus stop.
Rebecca’s mother told CBS News her daughter has battled with bipolar disorder for years and has a form of autism. She calls the hospital heartless.
Psychotherapist Imamu Baraka said he was leaving his office across the street from the hospital just as workers wheeled the patient out and left her at the bus stop.
“That did something to me. You can’t unring that bell for me,” Baraka said.
He’s the man who came to the woman’s aid and filmed the video, which is something he says he can’t watch anymore.
“I’ve only had six hours of sleep in the past three days, and I can’t sleep because she is constantly on my mind,” Baraka said.
He adds Suntha has reached out to him.
“He has made it very clear to me that change is going to come, and it is my intent to hold him fully accountable,” Baraka said. “We can use this to bring about change or we can do what we normally do: it’s the topic of the moment and then we go back to our dysfunctional norms.”
The hospital says it has tried to reach out to the patient’s family to apologize, but the mother says she ha heard nothing and her daughter is getting medical attention elsewhere.
The University of Maryland Medical Center has declined to comment on whether disciplinary action has been taken against the staff involved in this incident.
The University of Maryland Medical System released the following statement Wednesday:
“We share the shock and disappointment of many who have viewed the video showing the discharge of a patient from the Emergency Department of UMMC Midtown the night of January 9. This unfortunate event is not representative of our patient-centered mission.
“While there are many circumstances of this patient’s case that we cannot address publicly, in the end we clearly failed to fulfill our mission with this patient, no matter the circumstances of her case or the quality of the clinical care we provided in the hospital (which is not depicted in the video). We are taking this matter very seriously, conducting a thorough review, and are evaluating the appropriate response, including the possibility of personnel action.”
UMMC says it’s investigating the incident.
The Baltimore City NAACP released the following statement Friday:
While the hospital has apologized, the Baltimore City NAACP wants to know that upon the completion of the internal investigation that those responsible are held accountable for this inhumane incident. We also are demanding that the practice of forcing patients out of the hospital or “patient dumping” cease immediately.