Woman with dementia dumped outside California nursing home, family says

/ CBS News

Hospital accused of "dumping" elderly woman

A California woman says a hospital in Long Beach placed her mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, in a taxi and then dumped her in the middle of the night outside the memory-care facility where she lives. Costanza Zerbi says Alzheimer's has left her mother with the cognitive abilities of a small child and she cannot be left alone. So she says seeing security footage of 84-year-old Savina Zerbi trying to get into her care facility is heartbreaking.

"It's really sad. I mean, this is my mom who a year ago was driving," Zerbi told CBS Los Angeles. She said, "It's like taking a child and dumping him on the street in the middle of the night. It's insane. It's criminal."

The hospital, College Medical Center of Long Beach, issued a statement saying Savina Zerbi insisted on being taken home and that it complied with all regulations concerning discharge of the patient.

Security footage shows Savina attempting to open the front door to the Regency Palms memory-care home at 2:17 a.m. on Jan. 13. She is also seen pacing an alley and repeatedly returning to the door before gaining entry, though it is uncertain how she eventually got in.

Surveillance footage shows 84-year-old Savina Zerbi outside her nursing home in the middle of the night in Long Beach, Calif. via KCBS

Costanza Zerbi said the hospital knew her mother had Alzheimer's disease and was supposed to alert her when she was discharged. She says her mother was extremely agitated the night she arrived to the hospital. After spending four hours in the emergency room she was told Savina would be admitted. The daughter then went home and hours later received a call from Regency Palms that her mom was back.

"My mom is lucky that she didn't wander off or get kidnapped or get hurt," she said.

According to state records, regulators that oversee hospitals throughout the state found five deficiencies last year at College Medical Center. For a hospital of its size – 121 beds – the average deficiencies found in one year is no more than two, CBS LA reports. State officials say there is an active investigation into what happened.

Costanza Zerbi received word that officials from College Medical Center will meet with her to discuss the incident.

"I am hoping that they apologize," she said.

She says it's certainly possible that her mother insisted she go home on her own but that the hospital knew she had Alzheimer's and doctors have said her mother is in no condition to make a decision on her own.

First published on January 31, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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