The mother whose 22-year-old daughter was recently dumped from a Baltimore hospital in the freezing cold is speaking out about this “callous and heartless” treatment. She also wanted to set the record straight about her child’s condition.
“There are people who are saying that my daughter [Rebecca] is a drug addict, my daughter’s a prostitute, that she’s deaf,” Cheryl, who only wanted to use her first name, recently told CBS News. “She’s not deaf, not a prostitute, not a drug addict. My daughter has mental illness.”
She added, “My daughter was disposed of. She literally was disposed of. It’s disgusting, heartbreaking, horrifying. And if it’s all of those things for me, I want people to know how does Rebecca feel? This was done to her. She was on the street with her body exposed. There was no human dignity at all.”
Cheryl also elaborated on her child’s prior diagnoses, which include bipolar schizoaffective disorder and a form of autism, Asperger’s syndrome. Rebecca had been living in a residential youth program since Christmas Eve, but was discharged for not taking her medication, CBS News noted.
“She has to be on meds, otherwise she has psychosis,” Cheryl said. “She will have, uh, a manic episode.”
She also explained that she has been trying to take control of her daughter’s health by becoming her legal guardian, but because of HIPPA privacy laws, Rebecca’s doctors won’t share her medical files with Cheryl or even speak with her.
“This is a byproduct of what the mental health system is,” she stressed. “I cannot get any help for my daughter.”
When Cheryl was watching the viral video of a woman being tossed from the University of Maryland Medical Center, she soon realized that it was her own daughter.
“I didn’t even know that it was my daughter initially,” she said. “As he got close enough, I saw it was her and I got hysterical because in that moment, it was sheer fear that my daughter was going to die. I still haven’t watched all of the video.”
And when she tried to contact the hospital, they treated just as poorly.
“The hospital wasn’t being helpful. I called the security department (and) they laughed at me. When I told them, ‘That’s my daughter in the video and I just need to find out if she’s in the hospital,’ they laughed at me,” Cheryl said.
“Every person that I talked to at the hospital either hung up on me or told me to email the hospital, and that everyone was going to tell me the same thing.”
As we previously reported, Imamu Baraka was walking past the medical center when he noticed hospital security guards wheel a patient to the bus stop in the freezing cold, wearing nothing more than a flimsy hospital gown and socks.Immediately, Baraka pulled out his camera to document the incident.
“It’s about 30 degrees out here right now,” Baraka says in a recording. “Are you OK, ma’am? Do you need me to call the police?” he asks.
“Come on and sit down,” Baraka repeatedly says to the patient in the recording. “I’m going to call and get you some help.”
In a written statement, the hospital stated that they “share the shock and disappointment of many who have viewed the video. In the end, we clearly failed to fulfill our mission with this patient.”
Sadly, incidents like this one aren’t rare or new. What these security guards did is a trend called “patient dumping.”
According to Bustle, the phrase was coined in the 1980s and refers to what happens when hospitals neglect the poor, uninsured, and oftentimes homeless. They “dump” the patients by either transferring them to local public hospitals or putting them back out on the streets, like they did to Rebecca.
In the end, Cheryl is clear: “What was in that video was no empathy for a sick young woman, and, um, it was just so callous and heartless how they put her out there in the cold, exposed, and didn’t know her history, didn’t know her background.
“And I don’t think they ever really cared because they weren’t looking at her like a human being.”