Savina Genoese Zerbi, an 84-year-old woman with dementia, was dumped outside of a locked care facility after a brief hospital stay. Wearing her bathrobe and sandals, she was forced to wander outside the facility, alone and confused, for at least 25 minutes.
What makes the situation even more outrageous is that Savina had been taken to the hospital in the first place because she had threatened to commit suicide hours earlier.
Who’s at fault for Savina’s situation is still being determined, but her daughter, Costanza, has filed a complaint on her mother’s behalf against the hospital.
Here’s what we know.
On January 12, at about 6:00 in the evening, Savina threatened to kill herself using a nail file. It was only the first week of her stay at Regency Palms, a senior living community in Long Beach, California, that specializes in assisted living and memory care.
Costanza, 51, wanted her mother to be admitted to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, but a paramedic on the scene recommended College Medical Center instead because the wait would be shorter.
Costanza heeded the paramedic’s advice, but still spent roughly four hours in the CMC’s emergency room waiting on an evaluation for her mother.
At about 11:00 PM, Costanza left her mother to go home to be with her children. Once she got home, she was contacted by a clinician at the hospital named Gabriel. He said that Savina was going to be discharged, and that he would make sure she was able to get from CMC back to Regency Palms.
From there, Costanza contacted the geriatric consultant she had hired, William Young. He then tried to reach Gabriel himself, shortly after 12:00 AM, to get details about Savina’s transportation and arrival. However, he couldn’t reach Gabriel. When he talked to Regency Palms, they hadn’t gotten any sort of communication from the hospital about when Savina was going to show up, either.
Young went to bed around 2:00 AM.
At 2:17 AM, security footage shows Savina arriving at Regency Palms via cab. She tries to open the front door to the facility, then smacks the glass to try to get someone’s attention. For nearly a half hour, she wanders around near the facility, including in a dark alley. She repeatedly tries to open the front doors and also pounds on the glass, obviously confused.
It is unclear how long Savina was actually left outside the facility, and how she got back in. It’s also unclear who paid for the cab, though Young believes it was the hospital.
When Young woke at 8:00, he discovered what had happened to Savina, and Costanza was notified.
“I was horrified,” Costanza told KTLA. “My mom has a hard time piecing together anything. She thinks something that happened yesterday happened 10 years ago; she thinks something that happened 10 years ago happened today.”
Costanza filed a complaint on her mother’s behalf with the California Department of Public Health — against College Medical Center.
In California, state regulations mandate that hospitals are not allowed to transfer or discharge patients to another health-care facility unless arrangements have been made in advance.
State health department officials, College Medical Center officials, and the executive director of Regency Palm all declined to comment, as the investigation is ongoing.
“My mom has the cognitive abilities of a toddler,” Costanza told CBS Los Angeles. “It’s like taking a child and dumping him on the street in the middle of the night in an unsafe neighborhood – it’s insane. It’s criminal.”
C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.