It’s every concerned daughter’s worst nightmare.
Costanza Genoese Zerbi reportedly did what she could to provide the best possible care for her 84-year-old mother who started to show signs of Alzheimer’s dementia a year ago. Still, it wasn’t enough to protect her mother from exposure and endangerment.
Zerbi placed her mother, Savina Genoese Zerbi, in the Regency Palms Assisted Living and Memory Care in Long Beach, California, and also hired a geriatric consultant, William Young, to ensure optimal care.
“She is delusional, has hallucinations (and) is confused about facts. She has the mental capacity of a toddler,” Zerbi told CNN.
Unfortunately, Zerbi’s efforts weren’t enough to prevent a worst-case scenario from happening.
At 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12, Savina Zerbi threatened suicide with a nail file and was referred for psychological evaluation, according to the Press-Telegram. Daughter Costanza at first wanted her mother assessed at Long Beach Community Hospital but instead followed the recommendations of a paramedic who suggested that there would be less of a wait at College Medical Center, an acute-care hospital also in Long Beach.
Costanza Zerbi waited with her mother in the emergency room for four hours but finally left at 11 p.m. to take care of her own children.
According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, Zerbi later received a call from a hospital clinician who said he’d coordinate her mother’s return to Regency Palms. Young, the consultant, tried unsuccessfully to contact the clinician regarding discharge and transportation details. Regency Palms staff told Young that they heard nothing from the hospital about Savina Zerbi’s discharge and return.
Then something went seriously wrong.
Savina Zerbi was sent back to Regency Palms alone in a cab, where surveillance video shows her left alone outside the locked facility at 2:17 a.m. Clad in just a bathrobe and sandals and holding a large envelope, the elderly Zerbi alternated between grabbing door handles and banging on a glass window and wandering off down a dark, dimly-lit alley, appearing to grow more confused over the course of 25 minutes.
California law prohibits hospitals from discharging or transferring a patient to another healthcare facility without prior arrangement, according to the Press-Telegram.
Costanza Zerbi has filed a complaint against College Medical Center with the California Department of Public Health but said she does not intend to sue.
“I would just like to see the hospital operate in a more responsible way,” Zerbi told CNN.
In 2018, College Medical Center had more than double the statewide average number of deficiencies of hospitals its size.