A Humboldt Park medical center is changing the way patients are discharged after a 69-year-old man, who is legally blind and speaks little English, was found wandering alone on a street near the hospital.
Cirino Garcia was being treated for coronavirus at Amita Health Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center in Chicago, his family says.
Due to policies in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Garcia’s children were not allowed to stay with their dad in the hospital after he tested positive for the virus at a nearby clinic, but they were assured that he would be okay.
“They wheeled him in, and that was it,” Vanessa Garcia said.
Approximately two hours later, Cirino Garcia called his children to tell them he was being released.
“He said the nurse said ‘I had to leave,’” Vanessa recalled.
When the Garcia children arrived at the medical center to pick up their father, they were shocked to find him not in a waiting room, but out wandering the streets, alone.
“They just threw a disabled person out onto the street,” Vanessa said. “He did not know what was going on. I took him there to get help and they didn’t help him.”
Vanessa says she called the hospital several times trying to find out why they had released her father without any family present, but it wasn’t until she posted a video to Facebook about the incident.
“They called us a couple of days later,” Vanessa said. “Finally they contacted me and apologized, but it’s too late.”
Now, the hospital is making changes to its discharge policy, saying officials spoke to the Garcia family to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.
“We have identified an opportunity to improve the discharge communication process,” hospital officials said in a statement. “We are immediately reinforcing it to ensure a direct connection between patient and families upon discharge.”
Vanessa Garcia and her mother are still recovering from the virus, but for now, they’re just happy that they’re back with her father.
“We are just glad we are together,” Vanessa said.