Thursday, July 12, 2007
Another trip to 'Dante's Inferno'
Some call it "Dante's Inferno." I'm talking about Skid Row. For the hundreds of homeless who call it home, it truly is a living hell. The 50 square blocks that comprise this area in downtown Los Angeles are some of the scariest streets I've ever seen.

I've come here half a dozen times on "360" assignments, and little changes from one shoot to the next. Thanks to a greater police presence, fewer homeless people live here now than they did when we first visited two years ago. But it appears hospitals may still be dumping homeless people on the streets of Skid Row or in shelters here instead of giving them care.

The homeless are the perfect victims, according to L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who has charged three hospitals with illegaly dumping homeless patients.

"They might be suffering from dementia, have drug or alcohol abuse problems. They don't have a home ... They aren't the best witnesses if we're trying to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a hospital did something wrong here," he said.

For my story tonight, I interviewed a 26-year-old homeless man, Jose Gonzalez, who says he was dumped on skid row by an L.A.-area hospital just last month. He has severe back pain and can barely walk.

He says the hospital's social workers told him he was being discharged to get rehab, but instead he was taken to a shelter on Skid Row.

"Why would they send me an hour away?" Gonzalez wonders. "What were they trying to hide?"

The hospital is under investigation.

What's amazing to me is that right now there is no law on the books that specifically makes it illegal to dump homeless patients on skid row or anywhere else against their will. Some of the hospitals have promised to stop the practice, but the city attorney says he has investigated about 70 reports of dumping and has 10 active cases right now.

Who should be held accountable? The hospitals, or like many on the street here say, all of us?

-- By Randi Kaye, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 7:30 PM ET
  30 Comments
Hi Randi,
In the end we're all to blame, including the hospitals. No laws on the book? Since when do we need laws to do the right thing. That reality says everything.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 8:42 PM ET
Randi,

I'd like to hear the hospitals' side of the story before I answer your question about who should be held accountable for patient dumping on Skid Row. I have some questions of my own about this issue: Do all of the patients who were dumped on skid row have family members who are willing to take them in? Do they have an address of their own? Is it the responsibility of the hospital to find a homeless person a place to live? It seems to me that other social service agencies need to be more involved if this practice is going to stop.
Posted By Barbara, Culver City, CA : 9:14 PM ET
Everyone is accountable when it comes to this kind of deplorable treatment of human beings. I don't think we should call ourselves "humans" at all. How could anyone be so cruel and not give a crap about what happens to these people? Healthcare is all about money. Hospitals and healthplans only care about dollars and if you don't have any, you're screwed. Healthplans force physicians to accept low reimbursements contractually and then EVERYTHING the physician does has to be pre-authorized to prove medical necessity. Meanwhile their CEO's are flying the Concord and padding their retirement portfolios. And then they raise insurance premiums to outrageous levels, making it virtually impossible for some people to even have the MINIMUM amount of coverage and with ridiculous deductibles at that. Healthcare in this country is a luxury and that's just plain wrong.
Posted By Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 10:17 PM ET
Dante's Inferno

Randi, I think I've seen everything you've done on this and I've often wondered how much security you have there. I hate to adnit it but I would be fairly uneasy myself.

On tonight's show it was stated that one of the shelters always set aside up to ten beds for those who might arrive unexpectedly, but I remember your last piece when someone was taken to the Midnight Mission twice in a very short period of time, and was turned away each time. How likely is it that all the extra beds had already been taken?

It's true. You cannot force an admit, or proper meds to anyone regardless of behavior or living conditions. Unless the person is in immediate danger of harming himself or threatens someone else you have little recourse.

If they are admitted, treated and released, it's extremely difficult to be sure they continue medications.

I cannot help but sympathize with these people. I've been within a few hours of being on the street several times, years ago, and sleeping in my car didn't appeal to me!

Thank God, there was always someone, at the last moment. who came through. I can't imagine the fear and desperation the mentally ill must feel. I was terrified at the thought, and I'm mentally competent. Or so they tell me.

Maggie
Posted By Maggie, Grain Valley, MO : 11:52 PM ET
I'm so absolutely appalled by the lack of consideration and the disrespect for human life being shown by the hospitals! It bewilders me to think that any individual with even the slightest bit of conscience, could take another person who is not in the physically well, and who they know is without shelter, and just leave them in the worst possible environment! This type of action toward those less fortunate than others is cruel; and the fact that there is no law against it just highlights the fact that a drastic change has to come about in this country.
Posted By Jessica, Bourbonnais Illinois : 12:32 AM ET
Randi:

Once again a good report. Glad to see you back on the show. 360 needs you Randi!

Anderson:

I think this report was your best Planet in Peril ever. You seemed to be having fun in nature and that is always good for the soul. The national parks are really a great wonder of America.

360 Producers:

I thought for sure you would be covering the story about the $300 million dollar bank robbery in Baghdad today. Yes, folks $300 million US dollars and 220 million Iraqi dinars or $176,000 additional US dollars stolen.

Why the Iraqi people need that much cash at one time is beyond me? I know most of the country runs on cash, but come on can't just send an armed cargo plane over when they start running low. Most US banking centers have much less than $1,000,000 on site at any one time.
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 12:36 AM ET
It's not just a free ride?!? From what I have read, the LA homeless have been taxied out of hospitals for years now. Everyone is accountable of course. With a system that supports unequal distribution of wealth, as well as disproportionate spending (spare a few surge dollars here), it's no wonder that these people are ferried back and forth with no one wanting to be responsible. Didn't Paris Hilton want an opportunity to show her compassion? - this rests right in her backyard.
Posted By Sandy, Calgary, Alberta : 12:59 AM ET
Our society has a frightening and shameful lack of concern for the mentally ill and disabled.
As long as we continue to literally throw away the least of us - we have no claim to the title "the great society".
There is no humanitarian infrastructure in the US to provide care for these people. They live on our city streets, underpasses and alleyways -completely dehumanized to the point we pass them to and from work and never, ever "see" them. We are more responsible with our consumer trash.
Mental and physical disabilities, drug abuse and alcoholism will touch nearly every American in some way during their lifetime. How can we be so callous?
Posted By Marie in Houston, TX : 11:03 AM ET
We're all responsible for each other on this planet. There is no excuse for a human being to be thrown out like a piece of tainted garbage. There is no excuse for what I watched last night. Our family lap dog gets better treatment from her vet than these people did from the staff in the hospitals that were supposed to be helping heal them. They need to be charged with criminal negligence, convicted, and punished. That is just ridiculous.

A lot of people don't like universal healthcare as an option. I am one of them. I believe in the free market. Even the best free markets allow for those least able to participate to do so in a reasonable manner. Policies should be in place to assist those who cannot help themselves. Programs, staffing, and housing should be available so that people can recover in security and get on their feet. Not every person can be saved. Not every person wants to be saved. But if we are supposed to be the most powerful and generous nation in the world, we have to at least put forth an effort and care for our most vulnerable citizens before we try to fix the rest of the universe.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 12:21 PM ET
Randi/AC360:
I've heard that how a society treats its poor is a measurement of its civilization.

I think Dante's Inferno and the hospitals that dump patients get a ZERO on the civilized scale. Are patients just "beds occupied"? And if they don't have insurance, well, "forget it, they're outta here as soon as humanly possible"?

As long as our nation/cities see the homeless as a nuisance rather than lost humans in need of help, positive actions will be eluted.

It's funny, in the city of Indianapolis, they have conflicts about counting the number of homeless. The city announces that homelessness is down; the social agencies say they are skyrocketing. So, who do we believe?

By the way, how do you count the homeless? Yes, they can be found in obvious places like Dante's Inferno or on Pennsylvania Street in Indianapolis; but they may also be found in small town America and rural farming areas. Families are living in cars, under bridges, barns, abandoned homes, tents, and in semi-trailers. Homeless individuals and families wander between friends as well as family members. I believe homeless children are at the biggest risk of getting lost in the waves of despair.

Thank you for covering the topic of homelessness through the eyes of those who are living it.
Posted By Sharon D., Indianapolis, IN : 12:31 PM ET
Another angle to investigate is the silent changes to the state's laws supporting and governing mental health hospitals. I cannot quote specific dates or laws, but over the years, the PA State Government has cut funding and closed many hospitals that provided long-term care and housing to a segment of the population that desparately needs care - not just health care - but people to care for them. These folks deserve the same consideration we are giving to other "entitled" groups, but there are few to speak up for them - not many get out to vote. If you can expand your story to include this trend, perhaps some good will come of it.
Thank you.
Posted By Leigh in Pgh, PA : 12:44 PM ET
Accountable? The hospitals for "dumping" these people. All of us for not making sure these people are taken care of. Yes. It is amazing that there are no laws in place to hold the hospitals accountable but what's even more amazing is that CNN or any other news program gave this barely any attention until Michael Moore had his rant a few days back on the Situation Room. Sad. We are forced to watch over and over and over.....and OVER some new information about a Pizza Delivery guy that may or may not have particpated in a bank robery or some "keeping them honest" account of POTENTIAL fraud or POTENTIAL political scandal. Half news. You guy's report HALF NEWS! This is important for us to know. But what have YOU done about it? Wouldn't it be nice if you reported something that was fully investigated or some discovery of let's say....your own instead of what was handed to you by Micheal Moore or some other entity. So...as a news agency...shouldnt you stay on top of this? Interview some of these hospital employees? Political powers that may be able to assist these people? The Major of L.A.? Govenor of California? Shame on you CNN. Shame. As I said, my comments are not limited to only CNN.
Posted By Brant in Dallas Tx : 12:46 PM ET
We should provide federally funded housing and health care for the homeless people in our country. Whether they are mentally ill or disabled or alcoholic or working but can't afford housing, it shouldn't matter. I can't imagine what it would be like to have no home, no family and no one who cares about you. If our great nation spent a fraction of what we've spend in Iraq, we could house, feed, and otherwise care for our homeless population.
Posted By Shelley Eisenberg Battle Ground, Wa : 12:49 PM ET
You know what I blame the liberals for the problem. Several decades ago "a liberal lawyer" sued the government about mentally ill patients. Back then if your mentally ill and unable to take care of yourself, the state could put you in a mental institution. But now the only way a state can do that if is if you are threat to yourself or others. The lawyer won the case, and now state hospitals can do anything.

Our streets are filled with people that need serious mental health treatment. But because they can't be put into long term care anymore, there just isn't any place for these people to go. Local hospitals don't have the budget to take care of them. And state hospitals can take them because the law prevents them for doing so for more than a few days.

Until the laws are changed, and state run hospitals can really help the people that need the help, you people in the press can drum up all the ratings you want, but the federal and state laws will have to be changed.

My wife suffered from Biopolar disorder, which has now changed to scizoprenicia. Getting her treatment has been next to impossible, because she doesn't have any but Medicaid for insurance. Doctors have said she needs to be locked up, but as long as she's not a danger... They can't do anything.

Our mental health system is completely broken.
Posted By John Riggle - Houston, Tx : 1:17 PM ET
When Gov. Engler closed most mental health facilities and small treatment centers here in Michigan where did he think these people would go? They are not capable of caring for themselves. It is a shame that so many here in the US have become so self centered that caring for ones fellow man is not part of their thinking, religion, or conscience.
Posted By Barb Knutson- Haslett, Michigan : 2:33 PM ET
It is always easy to look for a way to blame other people, specifically the people in power. The reality is that we all need to realize that taking care of those around us not only benifits the people who receive proper treatment but it makes the world safer and more comfortable for the rest of us. Solidarity is a term that is truely understood by very few in our society. Take a look at Canada, France and the UK (among many other countries) and you can see people who really are willing to support their fellow man. We in this country are too money-hungry to think about possibly giving up a tiny bit of our own money to help others. It is a sad thought but until people change their attitude we shouldn't really expect much of a change.
Posted By Remy ATTIG - Syracuse, NY : 2:40 PM ET
Why are these people homeless in the first place? Is it because they can't hold a job? Is it because they won't look for a job? Did the hospitals suck their cash dry because many times these hospitals are run by money-hungry management?

All at fault, I think. The medical system will drain the wallets of even those doing well in a career, and yet provide only moderate care, and then the homeless simply can't get a job for whatever drug or alchohol problem they have, or maybe just because some won't even try.

Tough world, and we're all to blame.
Posted By Daniel Grape, Pittsburgh, PA : 2:54 PM ET
The fact that hospitals are dumping people off that are in need of help is despicable. Hospitals are supposed to provide adequate care for the sick regardless of the fact that these people are homeless. Merely treating them and dumping them off somewhere miles away from where they were staying without being fully recuperated is not providing adequate care. Part of the Hippocratic Oath that physicians take is to keep the good of the patient as the highest authority, and the act of dumping their patients out on the street is a violation of that.
Posted By De Andra, Spokane, WA : 3:25 PM ET
It is a well known fact that many homeless people are in that predicament because they chose to live that way. They pick up their SS checks at a variety of locations. Many are not penniless. They do not want to live in a situation which requires some kind of rules. I have worked in several mental health units and never heard of "dumping" a patient on the street. If that is true, then the responsible parties need to be held accountable. Patients often leave the hospital against medical advice and if they are not a danger to themselves or society there's nothing that can be done. I ask you to interview at least 10 of them in various situations and you will find out most of them are right where they want to be.
Posted By Kathleen : 3:39 PM ET
Why would you want a law banning this? It is not the responsibility of the hospitals to provide the social services that these folks apparently need. It is the city of Los Angeles' responsibility to see that these folks recieve the mental health care, homeless sheltering, and addiction treatment that they may need.

Don't blame the hospitals. Ask why the citizens of LA have decided not to fund these services. It is the members of a community that determine what social services they will provide for other members using community funding (taxes).

Apparently the citizens of LA have decided this is acceptable in their community.
Posted By Cassie Dallas, PA : 3:58 PM ET
So many people are responsible for the demise of some in America. How many people amoung us would go out to a person on the street, filthy, begging for food? It's easier to look the other way.
The Handicapped should definetly be more of a priority. I worked with mentally handicapped for three years and I have met some of the bravest people in the world. The fact that we choose survival of the fittest, over helping our fellow man is a top example of the problems within america.
It is up to us to change the world. And it can be as easy as refusing to accept the consequences of some actions. The hospitals dumping patients? That is unacceptable. They have as many rights as anyone else and the fact that they are disposing of people is cruel. People are not junk. They have so much worth. And if we can't learn to help each other out now and then then I fail to see how we can postiviely progress as a Community, Nation, and World.
-Kimi
Posted By Kimi, Winter Springs, Florida : 4:51 PM ET
This is another case where I think it is important to get to the bottom of things. I know that TV programs and movies are not real, but many times they are based on true stories. The first question that comes to mind are why are there so many cases of mental illness? The second thing is can we connect any dots to track where there seems to be more of it in some areas than in other areas? I remember an episode of Numbers that involved the LA area and contamination at the schools. If that was based on truth, then that would be a place to start. Just like Hex Chromium 6 can get into DNA, it could be true with many other things. The trouble is that so much of this stuff gets swept under the rug. Many of these chemicals put such a strain on our health care, but it never seems to be a topic for prevention simply by cleaning this stuff up. The so called strict water testing that gets done in California only tests for about 10 things, one of those being e coli. They really don't test for the things that we seem to be finding out are contaminating the water. They also only test at the well, not thinking of all of the breaks that could be in the pipelines from point A to point B. I know that it is wrong for people to do drugs, but at least they know what they are doing to themselves. What I find disturbing is all of the chemicals and drugs that people are exposed to without them knowing it or being able to do anything about it. How often do you see anyone get charged from a big industry for the damage that is done to the environment or society? Between those who are born with a mental illness and those coming back from the war with brain injuries, things have gotten way out of hand. The only way that I can think of to get things under control is to back track to find the causes and do something about it. Some things may seem like small changes, but if you add them up they could make a big difference. Even things like weed killer going into water or absorbing into crops could be causing damage. The stupid part about that is that many weeds actually produce a lot of oxygen so by killing them we are contaminating the ground or water and killing a good source of oxygen at the same time. To me that doesn't make much sense. What good does it do to have a pretty landscape with a bunch of sick or dying people living on it? Angel with an Attitude
Posted By Lisa Sill, Modesto,CA : 5:10 PM ET
I think the problem has several issues; budgetary, social, knowledge, just to name a few.

In this society, being diagnosed with a mental health disorder is like having one's forehead branded with a scarlet A. I believe that we have not worked hard enough to truly understand mental disorders and the ignorance that creates makes people nervous about dealing or interacting with a mentally ill person.

I have been dealing with a young adult with Bi-Polar disorder. Her Mom is my fiancee. This girl is homeless now, because she has threatened my life several times and holds a significant disdain for me, which makes it untenable to house her in our home. We had her with us from last October until last month. The problem for her is that, because she is 23, the laws of Washington (And many other states from what I can gather) have been adjusted to make sure that families cannot simply dump an unwanted family member in a mental health institution and leave them there. So unless a person voluntarily enters and stays in a program of therapy, the legal system will facilitate their release within five days of any involuntary placement. With many mental illnesses, effective chemical therapy takes a long time to establish. Arriving at the right amounts of the right drugs takes trial and error and normally takes six months at a minimum (In harsh cases) to establish. Without being treated, the person is not likely able to fend for themselves in terms of employment, housing or anything else for that matter. If we wonder why the homeless are in large numbers mentally ill, perhaps we need to look at it from the other direction. Are we as a society "dumping" people onto the streets by not properly treating their disorders? If that is so, why are we not treating thier disorders? My GUESS is that it has all to do with money. Considering the shape and condition of our healthcare in the US, we are FAR more inclined to look at a person with a problem and insist on knowing how their treatment will be paid for before treating them. I suspect the hospitals that are dumping in LA are not alone and they are doing so because the state will not pay for their hospitalization indefinitely so when the available money runs out, the hospital finds a convenient place to unload them and does so.
Posted By Tom Coe, Oak Harbor, Washington : 5:58 PM ET
We used to provide services to the mentally ill and mentally retarded in residential treatment centers until the 80's and 90's when many of these citizens were deinstitutionalized to protect their civil rights. For many this has only meant a change in institutional setting from a mental health facility to a jail cell. For others it has meant a lack of access to treatment and shelter as the promised community programs never materialized.

If you followed the legal logic of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department that pursued deinstitutionalization in the 80s and 90s, the hospitals are not dumping. They are merely making sure that civil rights of the homeless mentally ill are not being violated by keeping them too long in an "institution".
Posted By Douglas B Gordon, Eads, TN : 6:04 PM ET
Hi Randi,

I am reading Barlett and Steele's "Critical Condition," and a quote on page 114:
"Don Demoro, executive director of the institute for Health & Socio-Economic Policy, in Orinda, California, who has been studying the health care industry's transformation for years, says that all the restructuring has been justified for one misguided reason alone: "All this was built around a business school belief in market. The market says this. The market says that. There is this overriding belief that the market determines everything, as though human beings have no say. Don't interfere with it. Leave it alone. It will do the right thing"

I hope this quote will answer your question.

There are so many laws and policies to protect the economical end of the Health care system, but there are fewer laws in favor of a Human's constitutional right to access of proper health care.
Posted By Ratna, New York, NY : 7:44 PM ET
I am an advocate for the mentally ill. Los Angeles has one of the top rated psychiatric facilities in the country at UCLA. My brother was treated there because he had insurance and a family that advocated for him. He is not cured, but he is stable. We are very active in his on-going treatment which like all people with mental disorders waxes and wanes. I remember walking many times from the hospital over to Westwood and I would see countless homeless people burrowed into alcoves mumbling to themselves. They were obviously suffering from schizophrenic or bi-polar delusions. It was a disgrace that a hospital that could help them was within walking distance and yet had no interest or ability to do so. The big difference is that my brother had us to support and advocate for him. Most of the street mentally ill have been given up on by their families long ago. I suggest you get in touch with Steve Lopez from the LA Times who has chronicled a homeless Julliard schizophrenic who until recently lived on the streets. Nathanial and his trials have become well known throughout the City of Angels. With a little intervention and advocacy Nathaniel is preforming at a level of some function now. Lamplight has been instrumental in the progress of Nathaniel. Also, Mr Pete Earley who has been on with Anderson is probably one of the most knowledgeable sources on county jails housing the mentally ill. I would like to see Anderson take on this cause. If we can educate the public and begin the process of de-stigmatizng mental illness we can make progress much quicker. In California, which tends to be on the forefront of a lot of movements, we did approve a special tax that benefits the mentally ill. So there are dollars there - how they are being spent I have yet to see an accounting. Maybe you could do a "Keeping them Honest" segment about it. Mental illness affects a large segment of the population. What you see on the streets are the severe cases, but it is also visible in milder to moderate forms across our population. Sometimes people get the positive aspects of say bi-polar disorder with slight hypomania that makes them great sales people. Also many of the mentally ill are brilliant in certain aspects. If we educate people about the spectrum disorders that fall into the mental illness category, you will soon recognize that almost all segments of the population will meet some of the criteria. Also drug/alcohol useage seems to go hand and hand with mental illness. When someone tells me their brother/husband/child suffers from any addiction I always counsel them to look beyond the addiction for a mental condition. If we can get the addiction taken care of and then get to the root of a probable mental disorder than the chances of them living functionable lives is greatly enhanced. Also the fact that we are powerless to help the mentally ill when they do experience psychosis is an issue that needs to be addressed. Mr. Earley is the expert on this one. His son needed help, but he was powerless to help him because the son was convinced he was fine. He ended up committing a home invasion where he took a bubble bath and ended up in trouble with the law. These are the type of stupid things that are filling our county jails and prison to over-flowing. This cost a great deal of money to house all these chronic repeat offenders of minor offenses. This money could be much better spent. Everyone is always so concerned about being labeled "Crazy", but I am here to tell you we are all some kind of crazy if we don't address this very serious issue. Considering Anderson has been very open about his brother, I think it would really make a difference if he would focus some of his attention on advocating for the mentally ill.
Posted By Denise/ Los Angeles : 7:49 PM ET
Randi - It's so hard to believe that this is still going on, especially in the same area. If they are still dumping patients where there are video cameras, imagine how many are being dumped in other areas.

Keep on top of this. It is ridiculous that this happens in Los Angeles (or anywhere), and even more ridiculous that hospitals are still getting away with it. I hope LA City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo prosecutes these cases and that the laws are changed.
Posted By Barbara, Las Vegas, NV : 2:35 PM ET
Hi Randi,

(I'm not sure if an earlier comment went thru so I'll try again!)

I went to a clinic about 5 years ago as a homeless person and I wish to God they'd never found out. They ran some blood tests for a pre-existing medical condition I had, nothing serious, then asked me to come back 2 weeks later. In the meantime I had had all the symptoms for the condition I had been diagnosed with, before, 3 years earlier--before I became homeless, when I had had a job with medical benefits.

Well the 2 weeks came and I'm sitting there in the clinic, staring down with horror at a sheet of paper that the nurse-practitioner had typed up. Stating that it was "obvious" all my problems were because I was homeless and "not getting enough excercise". In other words, that I needed to get a job, bum. And still I'm staring at the paper, with the dawning horror that it was my homelessness they were addressing, not my medical condition. And then I was dismissed, just like that. And so I walked home. Went to work--walking, mind you 2 MILES each way (how many "non-homeless" do that?) So much for not getting enough exercise!!
And all because I was homeless. The classic--"go away" speech, I've since learned, is common to anyone who's had experience wiht homelessness. But, I'd never been homeless before, so, stupidly, I'd expected medical treatment. Well, I'm still sick from having my Hashimoto's sydrome untreated for nearly 3/4 of a decade. Perhaps not co-incidentally, I am also, still homeless.

I reallly do believe that if they thought they could get away with it, they'd also have thrown me to the curb, like so much trash.

Randi, the problem is that we have laws (and lawyers) protecting the blacks, the gays, the Jews. the Indians etc., hell, even the TERRORISTS,..., and yet we live in a society that wants to "take it out" on somebody...anybody. Glorifying our "separateness" as powerful people, and painting a line demanding that others not "equal" to us not be allowed to cross. And that's where the homeless come in. Or rather, where we WANT to "come in", but, aren't "allowed". (I could go on about the maddening job interviews where potential employers found out I was in a homeless shelter, but, that'd be a whole 'nother letter.)

We're not monsters. Our reasons for lacking a roof over our heads is as diverse as the roofs over the heads of the rest of you. Abuse. Self-abuse. Natural disaters. Fire. Loss of a job. Depression and mental illness (and lest you blame all homelessness on "mental illness" or drugs, try reading a gossip magazine. Half of Beverly Hills looks to be doing drugs and/or are mentally ill.) Most of the homeless who I've met fell prey to many the same pitfalls as everyone else, but, in the end, merely lacked the support system that would have kept them off the streets. And by the way, most of us are gainfully employed.

Where are the people from these other "protected" groups, clamoring for the rights of the homeless to be treated like humans too? The gays stuck up for the Jews. The Jews stuck up for the blacks. The Catholics stuck up for the immigrants. Who will stick up for the homeless?? Where are the banners saying we have the right to be hired? To medical care? To not be discriminated against by landlords when they find out we live in a shelter?? What laws have the homeless actually BROKEN? What, we're not wealthy enough??????

What's scary, or, should be scaring people, is that if there aren't any laws keeping hospitals from dumping the homeless, then, there aren't any laws keeping hospitals from dumping suburban moms, either. So wake up, people. Until we, as Americans, recognize the homeless as being a culturally sepreate identity worthy of the same protection under the law as other "protected" groups, we risk losing our own freedoms to whatever whim our richer, more powerful "neighbors" want to indulge in.
Posted By Lauren R., Wheeling, WV : 8:36 PM ET
Who should be held accountable for this horrendous practice? Where do I start? Our government (King George in particular) who is sending all of our money/jobs out of this country? Insurance companies who, let's face it, do not care who lives or dies? Religions who are self serving? Society as a whole, who only cares about themselves? Think I will go with all of the above! I do not even want to hear the theory that these people are totally to blame for their dire straights because that is not exactly true in all cases...where has the caring and compassion for fellow human beings gone? People do not realize that they, too, are only a step away from this senario. It can happend to anyone! Yes, all of us should be held accountable...we allow this to happen in our society. SAD!
Posted By Moe, Liverpool NY : 2:45 AM ET
I would like to see the statistics that say that most homeless people choose to be homeless. Do you think they conduct surveys on that? Pretty crass to say that, Kathleen. I work in healthcare and I would never say that. Most indigent people probably live with conditions like mental illness or some highly debilitating physical impairment that prevents them from working in such a capacity that would allow them to support themselves adequately. What a horrible thing to say-that people choose to be homeless. No, people choose to be cruel, I think. I can't digest that there are people in America that feel that way. And we saw the dumping actually occurring on 360 last week, so what else do you need for proof? Maybe an affidavit from the hospital?
Posted By Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 4:21 PM ET
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• 08/20/2006 - 08/27/2006
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• 04/22/2007 - 04/29/2007
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• 07/01/2007 - 07/08/2007
• 07/08/2007 - 07/15/2007
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