Hospital dumps woman with dementia outside locked care facility, daughter says

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- A daughter has filed a complaint against College Medical Center in Long Beach after she said the center had her mother, who has dementia, dumped at her care facility late at night when it was locked.

Around 2 a.m. on Jan. 13, security video showed 84-year-old Savina Zerbi trying continuously to get into the locked care facility where she lives. Zerbi was dressed only in a bathrobe and sandals.

Costanza Zerbi, Savina's daughter, said her mother had been taken to College Medical Center earlier in the day because she'd had a mental breakdown and threatened to hurt herself at the Regency Palms Senior Living facility.

But after she was released, Costanza said someone put her mother in a cab, which apparently dropped her off at the door of the care facility and drove off.

"So I picture the fear of being completely lost and in danger multiplied by a million because she is lost and in danger in that street at night," Costanza said.

At one point, Savina walked back and forth down a dark alley near the facility in an attempt to find a way in.

Costanza said the video she obtained from the care facility left her upset and outraged. She filed a complaint against the medical center with California's Department of Public Health.

Costanza said earlier when her mother was admitted to College Medical Center, she'd tried to see her but was unable to. She ended up going home to take care of her children and had no idea that her mother would later be released.

"She should have been released in the hands of a responsible party. Even the cab driver was at risk, honestly. She could have tried to disrupt his driving," Costanza said.

It was unclear how her mother was able to get back into the facility safely.

The California Hospital Association, a hospital advocacy group, could not comment on the case, but a spokesperson did say hospitals often contract with taxis and ride-share vehicles for medical transport.

The association also said that under the law hospitals do not need to communicate a discharge plan with a living facility because it's not providing medical care and is considered residential.

Still, Costanza is raising a red flag about what happened to her mother.

"Make sure your loved ones are cared for and make sure you know where you're sending them. I'm really hopeful that hospitals like that are improved," she said.

The College Medical Center provided Eyewitness News with a statement regarding the incident.

"College Medical Center is committed to providing its patients with superior service and quality of care. College Medical Center fully complies with all regulations concerning patient discharge planning and transportation. 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. College Medical Center timely and properly notified the patient's family member and the receiving facility where the patient had been residing that the patient was being discharged from the hospital.

"College Medical Center cares very much about the wellbeing of its patients and is concerned any time a patient has an unsatisfactory experience at College Medical Center. Without admitting any wrongdoing, College Medical Center will be meeting with the patient's family to discuss this matter in further detail."

The Serbi family is disputing the information and said their mother was in no position to make a decision based on her condition.
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