Friday, September 3, 2010

Homeless Hating Hospital

I haven’t written in days because I’ve been not only physically damaged but traumatized by what happened to me at the hospital. It’s only now I can really piece together enough inner strength to start overcoming what happened – how I was so badly treated by Homeless Hating Hospital ER’s Social Worker.

I was making calls to locate a Homeless shelter, a transitional Housing program or even a Domestic Violence shelter and located one with an opening when I stood up and a stabbing pain sliced through my leg and lower back. Still on the phone and trying to coordinate my arrival it happened a second time and then a third time. The operator I was talking to and I both knew something was seriously wrong (I have a Herniated disc injury). Soon afterwards I was transported to the emergency room at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. Received decent care but entirely too much pain killer medicine which I believe may have been morphine - I was throwing up for over an hour.

On Tuesday August 31st 2010. I was transported to Homeless Hating Hospital for what I now know is a herniated disc injury caused by domestic violence and physical stress. Greg (I believe is the name of the social worker) came into my ER bed space and from the very start was hostel to me. He asked me how he could help me. I told him I was going to a domestic violence shelter and the shelter told me that once the medical staff was done to ask the hospital staff to arrange for me to be transported to or near the shelter. Greg immediately got defensive and said "no way the hospital doesn’t do that.”

He then proceeded to demand information from me and belittle me for leaving my ex boyfriend for the second time. He asked me what my boyfriend did and he snapped at me - He said: “and you’re just reporting it now!?”

When I tried to explain why I didn’t file a police report he got extremely disturbed and loudly told me I had to file a report. I again tried to explain why I couldn’t but he wouldn’t let me finish. Then he demanded to know where I came from. I told him PATH. He told me to go back there then. I told him what happened at PATH and that I had already scheduled to be at a domestic violence shelter. Before I could finish all of my explanation he snapped at me again and said

“You’ve gone back to him twice. I don’t want to get involved with you and your boyfriend.”

I again tried to explain to him why I didn’t want to and he practically yelled "NO, I don’t want to get involved.”

Then he started to demand to know where I had been for the last three days. I got upset and started to raise my voice. He told me to calm down as I was telling him I had spent the last three days at emergency shelters. He then told me to go back there. Again, I told him I was already scheduled to go to a domestic violence shelter. He demanded to know why I wasn’t already there. I told him that all of the shelters were full until today and I could show him my list of places I’ve called. He made a face of disgust and said in a demeaning voice “I don’t want to see it.”

I then asked to use the phone. He said “The phone is at the nurses’ station”

I said “I can barely walk, can you please bring it to me?”

Him: “No, you can walk yourself over there.”

At this point I practically screamed “Did you even read my medical chart?” It wasn’t until the day after I realized he did indeed read that I was suffering from a herniated disc injury and knew I could barely walk.

I closed my eyes, took a couple of breaths and calmly asked for him to bring me the phone so I could call the domestic violence shelter.

He again said “No, we don’t have bedside phones and if you want to use the phone you’ll have to use it there.”

I said “I need to call the shelter to figure out how I’m going to get there. The nurse brought me the phone last time, why can’t you do that?”

He said that the hospital was not a transportation unit and if I wanted to use the phones “you’ll just have to walk yourself over there.”

Again, I became extremely upset and told him he was the wrong person to help me and since he didn’t give a shit about me there was nothing he could do.

He said “I didn’t say that.”

Me: “Yes you did when you said you didn’t want to get involved with me and my boyfriend. So since you couldn’t care less you can’t help me.”

He said in a snotty voice: “I never said that, you’re being hysterical and I’m here to assist you.”

I said I wish I could record you because if you heard yourself you would be too. What can you assist me with?”

He stabbed his clipboard with his fingers, leaned towards me and in a hostel voice said “I have to interview you to know.”

After this loudly said that I needed to get to the domestic violence shelter and I needed the phone. He threw his hands up in the air and again in a hostel voice said "You’ve been released right?”

Me: "Not officially.”

He threw his hands in the air, turned his back on me , turned back around and in a hostel voice said: “Well! Since you obviously need medical attention and not me I’m releasing you over to them. I guess I
can’t help you.” Then he stormed off.

I then called for anyone to come to my bed and finally a man in red scrubs came. I asked him I needed my nurse or my doctor. The nurse came and I told her what happened, asked for the phone and demanded to talk to the ER Manager. In fact I had to ask several different times.

When I got the phone I told the hotline what happened as well and it is only because of them I was transported to a police station to be picked up.

Before I left the same social worker came to my bed. I immediately said I didn’t want to talk to him. He ignored me and said “You’ve been released. A shuttle is being arranged to transport you. I hope you get
the medical help you need. Glad we could help you.”

An older woman who told me she was a director came to me and I was hysterical... I told her what happened and told her that he should never be working with people. I said I was going to file a complaint with not only the hospital but the board that certifies social workers. I again asked for the social worker's name and was refused each and every time.

In the end…. No one in ER would give me his name or his title. I didn’t remember it until the next day. It took the Program Manager from the DV Shelter calling the ER Director to get them to transport me to the police station so they could pick me up.

The last couple of days have been physically and emotionally tortuous. For the last few days I have honestly wondered and started to believe that yes, I did deserve it. Maybe that is wrong but now I can't help but wonder/ believe ...maybe I do deserve everything that has happened to me.

 The DV Staff have been saints to me. They scheduled me to see a real doctor who actually cares (female) and not only gave me medication for the pain but referred me to a different hospital for x-rays, counseling and physical therapy. If it wasn’t for them I honestly believe I would have been thrown out on the street by Homeless Hating Hospital and left for the street vultures.

I still feel emotionally drained …and I know that what Homeless Hating Hospital’s Social Worker did to me was probably not the first time and will not be the last time. I'm horrified that he has probably done this to other women who have been dumb enough to stay in abusive relationships. But when there is no other place to go - what are we suppose to do?

I did file a complaint with not only the hospital but the BBB and the certification board for Social Workers.

Right now, I want to physically heal and then get my life back. I want to believe I'm not as stupid as I feel. I am so mentally, spiritually and emotionally drained I just want to recover and start over...


  1. You need to know that Hollywood Presbyterian was sued by the City of LA for dumping a homeless, paraplegic man with a broken colostomy bag still attached in the gutter in front of a Skid Row shelter in 2005; they settled in 2008 for $1 million plus some fines and promises to change their homeless protocols. This is what Jeff Nelson, Hollywood Presbyterian CEO had to say after HPMC settled "From the first day, we promised to take action to review our policies, procedures and services for homeless patients and improve them where needed." Your experience exposes their hypocrisy and refusal to comply with the terms & principles of the legal agreement. Hollywood Presbyterian is still trying to get away with cruel treatment of homeless people.

    The way the social worker and hospital treated you is outrageous. No human being should ever have to experience that kind of abuse, much less a victim of domestic violence. You need to contact Louise Baird who was appointed by LA Superior Court to monitor HPMC's compliance with their adopted homeless protocols. You should also talk to Jeff Isaacs, chief of criminal prosecutions and enforcement for the city attorney. Please do something to make sure that Hollywood Presbyterian doesn't get away with abusing women in vulnerable circumstances!