A viral video of a recently discharged patient left at a bus stop at night in Baltimore has inspired widespread outrage and prompted an investigation at the hospital where she was treated.
The video is distressing to watch — both for its contents and for the questions it raises about the events leading up to it.
A young woman, wearing only a hospital gown and socks, is left standing by a bus stop Tuesday night or early Wednesday as four men in uniforms, possibly security guards, walk away. The man who filmed it, Imamu Baraka, follows them as they leave the stop with an empty wheelchair.
“Wait, so you all are just going to leave this lady out here with no clothes on?” he says. “That is not okay.”
One of the men replies it was “due to the circumstances of what happened.”
The young woman barely speaks and seems dazed, occasionally crying out. Baraka urges her sit at the bus stop, where two plastic bags full of the woman’s belongings lie on the ground next to a pair of shoes. As she approaches the cold bench, the thin gown exposes her bare skin.
According to weather reports, the temperature in Baltimore was in the 30s the night the video was filmed.
‘I am disgusted’
Baraka’s Facebook posts about the incident, published early Wednesday morning, have almost 40,000 shares combined and thousands of comments expressing disbelief. His initial video has 1.2 million views.
In a follow-up video, Baraka explains that he called an ambulance to come pick up the young woman and take her back to the hospital.
Baraka, who says he works as a psychotherapist in the Baltimore area, acknowledges the woman could have been “unruly,” and that one of the men who dropped her off seemed to imply as much.
He muses that the hospital staff should have perhaps committed her “until they are clear about what’s happening.”
“You can’t expect those with mental health issues to be pleasant. Because they’re ill,” he says. “I am disgusted by the lack of empathy that I am seeing displayed.”
The incident happened outside the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“We share the shock and disappointment of many who have viewed the video showing the discharge of a patient from the Emergency Department of UMMC Midtown the night of January 9. This unfortunate event is not representative of our patient-centered mission,” reads a statement issued by the UMMC.
“While there are many circumstances of this patient’s case that we cannot address publicly, in the end we clearly failed to fulfill our mission with this patient, no matter the circumstances of her case or the quality of the clinical care we provided in the hospital (which is not depicted in the video). We are taking this matter very seriously, conducting a thorough review, and are evaluating the appropriate response, including the possibility of personnel action.”
Many who watched the video wondered what happened to the patient after she was taken back to the hospital. When asked about this Karen Lancaster, a spokeswoman for the University of Maryland Medical System, said “patient privacy regulations restrict us from providing any details.”