The family and lawyer of a young woman featured in a controversial video expressed their thoughts over the country's failed mental health care system and the illegal practice of patient dumping. The woman in the footage, Rebecca Chandler, had nothing on but her socks and hospital gown when hospital workers deliberately left her at a bus station.
Outrage Over A Case Of Patient Dumping
Imamu Baraka's video of Rebecca's ordeal when the hospital staff left her out in the cold sparked widespread public outrage. What happened was evidently a case of patient dumping, and people couldn't help but empathize with Rebecca who was moaning and pacing on the side of the street in a hospital gown.
Rebecca's mother, Cheryl Chandler, later revealed that her daughter suffered from bipolar schizoaffective disorder and Asperger's syndrome. The hospital involved, the University of Maryland Medical Center, apologized for the incident. Meanwhile, Rebecca's family took the opportunity to speak out about the state of mental health care in the country.
'Failed Mental Health Care System'
In an interview conducted after Baraka's video went viral, Cheryl revealed that her 22-year-old daughter was part of a residential youth program, Pathways, since she was 18. On Christmas Eve, Rebecca was released for not taking her medication. Cheryl added that she tried to gain legal guardianship of her daughter so that she could take care of her housing, Social Security, and medication. However, doctors did not entertain her request due to HIPAA patient privacy laws.
"This is a byproduct of what the mental health system is," Cheryl said at the time.
A month prior to the patient dumping incident, Cheryl filed a missing person's report because Rebecca stopped communicating with her family. Authorities notified her that they located Rebecca in a hospital in Baltimore.
The Face Of Mental Illness
During a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 18, Cheryl stated that her daughter had been battling mental illness for years since she was 16. According to Cheryl, her daughter did not intend to be the face of mental illness and the failed mental health care system.
Rebecca's lawyer, J. Wyndal Gordon, stated that Rebecca required quite a considerable time at the hospital. He claimed that the hospital assumed Rebecca did not have insurance, which she did, and opted to just leave her on the street.
Gordon added that Rebecca could have died from hypothermia since she was virtually naked.
After being rescued from the streets, Rebecca was admitted back to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Cheryl revealed Rebecca was later transferred to another hospital in Baltimore and was eventually sent to a homeless shelter. As of now, Rebecca is receiving mental health treatment in an inpatient facility and is doing better.
Representatives from the University of Maryland Medical Center, the hospital concerned, expressed their disappointment over this incident. The facility promised to conduct an internal investigation to hold the responsible personnel accountable for their actions.