A 71-year-old man with dementia became lost after he was put in a taxi by a rehab facility and sent to a locked, empty home.
Alexander Rose was in long-term care at Mecklenburg Health and Rehabilitation Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, following a stroke. However, less than a month after being there, he was discharged — not because he no longer needed care, but because there was an issue with payment.
The facility claimed that his care wasn’t covered fully under Medicare and that he needed Medicaid on top of it. Obtaining Medicaid would take 45 days, and the facility said they didn’t have the time to wait that long for the request to process.
They said he needed to go home immediately.
Rose’s son, Tarance, is Rose’s legal guardian. He told the facility he’d do whatever it took to get the care his father needed, but they said he needed to be discharged.
Tarance wasn’t able to get his father because he was two hours away in South Carolina, and told them he wasn’t available to come and get him.
According to Tarance, the facility then said, “If you don’t come get your dad, we’ll put him in a cab and send him to the shelter.”
But that’s not what happened.
Tarance shared a voicemail from the facility that said that his father was being discharged to Tarance’s home. They didn’t confirm with Tarance that he would be home beforehand, and he wasn’t.
Most importantly, Tarance is his father’s legal guardian, and wasn’t there to sign his dad’s discharge papers. Instead, Rose signed the papers himself.
Rose was disoriented the day he was discharged, and left several voicemails for his son before he left the facility, asking Tarance to come get him.
“I’m at the airport,” he said in one voicemail. “I mean, I’m at the doctor’s office.”
Other voicemails said he was at the bus station, in the courtroom, outside the courtroom, and in Brooklyn visiting a cousin.
After he signed his own discharge papers, he was put in a taxi and sent to his son’s house. Tarance wasn’t there, and the house was locked and empty.
“They shouldn’t have did me like that. I didn’t know where I was at,” Rose said. “I was frightened. I could have had a heart attack.”
Rose was found wandering and lost by a friend hours later.
“If they put him in a cab 10 in the morning, I found him around 2 pm… wandering, lost,” he said. “He was out of breath. He couldn’t even breathe.”
Rose was discharged with a plastic bag containing dirty clothes and no medication, even though Rose was diabetic and was on lots of medications.
State and federal rules may have been violated in this case. Fox 46 Charlotte found that, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a discharge plan needs to be created with the input from the patient or guardian, and the plan needs to ensure that the patient is safely transferred out of the facility and into a location that can meet their needs. On top of that, a 30-day notice is typically needed when discharging a patient.
‘Improper patient discharge’ is the most frequent complaint that the CMS receives.
The administrator of the facility offered this statement:
“As a trusted healthcare provider, we arrange safe and appropriate discharges according to the guidance of an interdisciplinary team of physicians and other trained clinicians, and federal and state regulations. When a patient is competent and capable of returning to his or her prior home setting, we have a responsibility to honor his or her wishes. To accommodate the patient’s wishes, we help arrange appropriate transport and provide the family with ample notice to plan accordingly.
Although privacy laws prohibit us from commenting about particular patients without their permission, we can say that a family member’s opinion and healthcare provider’s assessment may differ in regards to a patient. We remain committed to our patients and take great pride in the care that we provide.”
Rose is now in a nursing home that is working with the family on getting Medicaid.
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