UMMC Apologizes for Dumping Mental Patient on Sidewalk

by: Deborah Bailey Special to the AFRO
/ (Imamu Baraka via AP) /
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Dr. Mohan Suntha, CEO and president of the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), took responsibility for the error-filled discharge of a woman from the emergency room of the Medical Center’s midtown campus, Tuesday night. At a press conference on Jan. 11, Suntha expressed remorse for the way the unnamed female patient was found on the street with only a thin medical gown and socks, after being wheeled out of the medical facility by staff.

“I absolutely want to start by apologizing to the patient, her family and the entire community we serve for what occurred as a patient was leaving our organization Tuesday night at the Midtown campus,” he said.

This Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, still image taken from video provided by Imamu Baraka shows a woman discharged from a Baltimore hospital wearing only a gown and socks on a cold winter’s night. Baraka, identified in local reports as the person who sought to help the woman, told The Associated Press he was so angry he decided to record Tuesday night’s events on cellphone video, fearing no one would believe him if he reported a woman being left at a bus stop like that. (Imamu Baraka via AP)

Suntha said that the patient was given appropriate medical care while at the facility.
“But, where we absolutely failed and where we own that failure is in the demonstration of basic humanity and compassion as a patient was being discharged from our organization after receiving that care,” Suntha said.

Imamu Baraka, a doctoral student in healthcare administration at University of Maryland, Baltimore, was reported to be leaving his office across the street from the hospital when hospital workers wheeled the woman to a nearby bus stop. Baraka captured the incident on cell phone video.

“Are you ok? Are you able to speak?” Baraka was recorded saying to the woman, who only shrieked in response.

Paramedics came and took the woman back inside the hospital.
In an exclusive interview with the AFRO, Suntha said he was shocked and outraged by the incident.

“We’re doing a full analysis to look at the entire incident from the moment that the patient arrived at our organization,” he said.

The administrator also expressed the value UMMC places on the West Baltimore community that the Midtown campus serves.

“This incident is not who we are as an institution. This organization has served this community for 136 years. We believe that through that arc of history that we have demonstrated a firm commitment to the citizens of Baltimore and very specifically to West Baltimore,” Suntha said. He added, “This is not an institution that has ever turned its back on this community. We believe we are part of the fabric of this community and we will continue to be so.”

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