Mother Horrified by Footage of Mentally Ill Daughter Improperly Discharged
Cheryl Chandler, the mother of Rebecca, the mentally ill woman left by hospital personnel at a Baltimore bus stop in the freezing cold wearing only socks, said of the discovery, “It crushed me.” Chandler was made aware of her missing daughter’s situation on January 9th when she just so happened to stumble upon the viral video footage shot by disgusted passer-by and psychotherapist, Imamu Baraka.
Rebecca, 22, was dropped by workers at the stop with a bloody gash on her forehead. She was wobbling around in only a hospital gown and socks, groaning and visibly disoriented. Her mother says she is “eternally grateful” to Baraka for capturing the incident on tape.
Chandler described her daughter as a lovely young woman who has been struggling with mental illness since she was 16. Over the past year-and-a-half, she had been in and out of residential facilities. Chandler said her daughter, who does have health insurance, was “denied her right by law to receive the clinical care.” She added of the footage, “My daughter did not choose to be the face of mental illness. She didn’t choose to be an example of the impact of a failed mental health care system. She was an individual in need of services.”
Wyndal Gordon, the attorney representing Rebecca, said the woman was suffering from an episode of acute psychosis. He has alleged the case is that of “patient dumping,” an illegal practice of turning away patients, mostly uninsured, from emergency room care.
“Rebecca’s condition was going to require a considerable hospital stay to stabilize her. [University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus], believing that she did not have insurance, determined it was better to return her to the street untreated and face whatever consequences arose from that decision rather than to absorb the cost,” he said, adding that the decision to dump her at the stop, “unable to speak coherently, fend for herself, or respond appropriately to the frigid temperatures” demands “legal action.”
“It didn’t take a genius to see that she needed help,” said Rebecca’s twin sister, Rosslyn, after watching the footage. It was painful to see her twin in that condition.
Dr. Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of University of Maryland Medical Center, responded, “We believe firmly that we provided appropriate medical care to a patient who came to us in need, but where we absolutely failed, and where we own that failure, is in the demonstration of basic humanity and compassion as a patient was being discharged.”
The hospital, which began conducting an internal investigation, has indicated it found a breakdown after the point of medical discharge and the personnel responsible with be held accountable. They are also soliciting the help of outside experts who will conduct an independent audit, which Suntha says he’s confident about, stating he believes these action steps “address the root causes of last week’s breakdown.”
Rebecca was involuntarily admitted to another Baltimore hospital after being discharged from UMMC and sent to a homeless shelter, according to family members. Chandler confirmed her daughter is at an undisclosed inpatient facility undergoing mental health treatment. Her younger sister, Rachelle, said she was doing better and read aloud a statement from Rebecca thanking people for their support.