The family of Savina Genoese Zerbi has filed a complaint with the state, alleging it put her in a taxi and then walked away

By Jeff Truesdell
February 01, 2019 03:20 PM
Savina Genoese Zerbi, who suffers from dementia, outside the Regency Palms assisted care facility

A hospital allegedly put an 84-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s into a taxi for a ride to a California care facility, where she was abandoned alone outside a locked door to wander for at least 25 minutes around 2 a.m., according to a complaint lodged by her family.

It’s unknown how long Savina Genoese Zerbi, who was recorded on surveillance video in a bathrobe and sandals trying to enter the Regency Palms facility at 2:17 a.m. on Jan. 13, was outside, reports the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

“It blows my mind that a hospital can put someone who has Alzheimer’s into a taxi and send her back to a memory care facility that she is unfamiliar with,” said the woman’s daughter, Costanza Genoese Zerbi, according to the outlet. “It’s absolutely wrong. They put her life in jeopardy.”

In an interview with Los Angeles TV station KTLA, she added: “I was horrified. My mom has a hard time piecing together anything. She thinks something that happened yesterday happened 10 years ago; she thinks something that happened 10 years ago happened today.”

Zerbi’s daughter has since filed a complaint with the California Department of Public Health against College Medical Center, which she blames for allegedly dumping her mom.

The state agency acknowledged “an ongoing investigation at this facility” in a statement to PEOPLE, but declined further comment on the allegation.

“The California Department of Public Health investigates all complaints or facility-reported incidents which may violate any state law or regulation within CDPH’s authority to enforce,” said the statement. “Details about any potential pending or ongoing investigation are kept confidential until the investigation is complete and findings are issued to the facility.”

College Medical Center said in a separate statement that its discharge of the patient followed proper protocol, reports the Press-Telegram. PEOPLE’s call to the medical center for comment was not immediately returned.

“College Medical Center fully complies with all regulations concerning patient discharge planning and transportation,” said the center’s statement.

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Zerbi’s daughter said the incident began about 6 p.m. the previous evening after her mother, who had been admitted to Regency Palms only days earlier, threatened to kill herself with a nail file, according to the Press-Telegram.

She then asked that her mother be taken to Long Beach Memorial Hospital, but a paramedic told her there would be less wait time at College Medical Center, she said.

After waiting several hours for her mom to be evaluated at the College Medical Center emergency room, Costanza Genoese Zerbi said she left the center about 11 p.m. to go check on her children.

She received a call from College Medical Center soon after she reached home, saying her mom would be discharged and sent back to Regency Palms.

The next morning, a geriatric consultant working for the Zerbi family, William Young, said he learned from a Regency Palms employee that the patient had been left outside of the locked care facility by a taxi driver, according to the Press-Telegram.

The statement from College Medical Center said: “This particular patient denied College Medical Center’s assistance with transportation and insisted that she be taken to her place of residence via public transportation.”

The center said it “timely and properly” notified both Zerbi’s family and Regency Palms that she was being discharged.

But Costanza said her mother would have been unable to pay for a cab, and her dementia affects her thinking.

“Whoever decided my mother was safe to make decisions for herself should not have a medical license,” she told the Press-Telegram. “The hospital can’t walk away until they say she is in the hands of someone who is able to take responsibility. Putting her in public transportation is not taking responsibility for her.”

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