New bill to end homeless 'patient dumping'

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Homeless hospital patients in San Diego are sometimes dumped back on the streets after receiving treatment. Some of them - then turned away from shelters who don't have enough room. California lawmakers are trying to change that.

It breaks Kim Peterson's heart to see her friend, Heather, living on this Chula Vista sidewalk.

"This is a picture of us together," said Peterson. "We've become more like sisters."

Heather is constantly in and out of hospitals.

"She's had multiple strokes," Peterson said. "She needs to use a wheelchair to get around."

But, the care stops once the hospitals let her go.

"She was released back to the street with a bus pass," Peterson told 10News. "It was raining, with no place to go, just a blanket."

Another time, Heather was taken to a shelter - but turned away.  

"They dropped her off far from where she felt safe," Peterson said. "They took her downtown where there wasn't a bed for her."

One hospital told 10News they give patients a list of resources, but the patient has to coordinate them on their own.  

Senate Bill 1152 would require hospitals to confirm the shelters have room before they're discharged.

"What does she need to do?" said Peterson. "I will help her do whatever she needs to do to get housed, to be safe, instead, she's laying on the sidewalk."

The current problem leaves the homeless in their most vulnerable state and back on the streets. 

"It's very discouraging to think that we can't do better than that," Peterson said. 

Today, Heather got news that a nursing facility has extra room. 

"She will never get better," Peterson said. "She's gonna be in this permanent state of disability."

Heather will be celebrating her 60th birthday next month, with a roof over her head. Many others won't be as lucky. 

"We can find a solution," said Peterson. "I know we can."  

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