By The Bakersfield Californian
Q: On June 21, I was taken by ambulance to San Joaquin Community Hospital. I was seen for flank pain and it turns out it was a kidney stone.
Around 2 a.m., after receiving narcotic pain meds, I was released. Because I was taken by ambulance, I didn't have any shoes or under garment under my shirt. They asked if I had a way home and I told them I do not. I also told them I would have to walk. They gave me the hospital socks and sent me on my way.
I then walked, high on pain meds to the Marriott on Truxtun Avenue. With my fresh taped up injections, I walked into the lobby and asked if they would be able to give me a ride the rest of the way home to Fairfax and College. The night manager (I did not get his name) told the shuttle van it would be OK to take me. I have huge blisters on both heels from the distance I walked. I arrived home around 3 a.m.
My friends and family have told me hospitals are supposed to comp a taxicab ride home. I don't know if that is the case, but there were a number of things that could have happened to me.
To the night manager and shuttle driver at Marriott on Truxtun, you are the best and so appreciated. Thank you!
-- Shelly Eick
A: For starters, San Joaquin Community Hospital has no documentation of Eick requesting help getting home, and that is something San Joaquin routinely notes in patient charts, said Jarrod McNaughton, vice president of marketing and development for the hospital.
He said San Joaquin's "policy is clear": If patients are discharged and say they don't have a way home, hospital staff ask if there's anyone they can call to come pick them up. And 90 percent of the time, McNaughton said, a friend of family member is able to come and give the patients a ride home.
For the 10 percent who don't have someone who can help, San Joaquin provides a taxicab or bus voucher to get them home, he said.
"Every hospital in California learned a big lesson from the situation that happened in Southern California," McNaughton said, referring to well-publicized cases of patient dumping there. "I would be shocked if any hospital would allow that to happen, given what happened down there."
But the patient has to ask for help, he said.
Eick said she did.
Whatever the case, we did ask the state if hospitals must provide patients a safe ride home from the hospital after they are discharged. Here's what we learned from Pam Dickfoss, assistant deputy director of the California Department of Public Health's Center for Healthcare Quality:
"There are state and federal requirements for hospitals that prevent a hospital from discharging a patient until the patient's medical condition has been stabilized and a licensed health practitioner has determined that based on the patient's clinical condition, discharge will not create a hazard for the patient.
"However, there are no requirements for a hospital to ensure that a discharged patient has safe passage home. A hospital must have a discharge policy and must provide discharge counseling that includes information about the continuing health care requirements for the patient.
"While some hospitals may choose to provide an additional transportation service for an additional fee, or may offer to call a family member, friend or taxi service for a discharged patient who needs a ride, there are no state or federal requirements that compel a hospital to do so."
State officials said people can file a complaint about care given by a hospital with the state health department's Bakersfield district office, 4540 California Ave. Suite 200, Bakersfield, CA, 93309. Jean Chiang is the acting district administrator.
The office can also be reached at 336-0543 or, toll free, at 866-222-1903.
Q: On the east side of Fairfax Road south of Panorama Drive, land is being graded. There doesn't appear to be any dust control resulting in dust and dirt drifting up to homes on the bluff.
Why is that area being graded and is there any provision to have water trucks spray the area to help keep the dust under control?
-- Darlyn Baker
Q: There is a huge amount of dirt being moved around on both sides of Fairfax Road, just north of Alfred Harrell Highway. What are they doing there?
-- Bob Braley
A: Rick Millwee, Bakersfield construction superintendent, answered:
The only project that we have in the general area of these two questions is an excavation operation to move soil from a hill on the east side of Fairfax Road for placement as a cap to the old sanitary landfill.
Dust control provisions, including placement of water within the excavation operation, are being implemented by the contractor during this process. City staff and San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District staff are monitoring this operation for compliance with state law for dust control.
Q: The city and county have added a center median (center divider) with trees and landscaping on Chester Avenue, from Truxtun Avenue all the way through to North Chester Avenue (Oildale), and then from Brundage Lane all through South Chester.
My question is, are there any plans to beautify Chester Avenue between California Avenue and Brundage Lane?
-- Gene Torigiani
A: Arnold Ramming, a design engineer with the Bakersfield Public Works Department, fielded this one:
The issue is one of funding. The city has previously sought grants for constructing a landscaped center median in Chester Avenue from Brundage Lane to California Avenue. But we have not received those funds. When there is a call for projects from an appropriate funding program, we will apply for it.
Ask The Californian appears on Mondays. Submit questions to email@example.com or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.