‘Troubling situation:’ Aurora launches task force after photos surfaced showing homeless man dumped outside Sinai

MILWAUKEE -- Aurora Health Care has suspended employees and launched an investigation after pictures surfaced, appearing to show a homeless patient dumped outside the Sinai Medical Center in downtown Milwaukee -- sitting outside with no shoes or coat. Homeless advocates were outraged, and Aurora officials themselves said they're deeply troubled by the photos, and they've pledged to make things right.

These are the photos making the rounds online:

Eva Welch

Eva Welch, the head of the homeless advocacy organization Street Angels Milwaukee Outreach said she helped the man weeks earlier when he was released from a different hospital. She was appalled by the photos. She and others said hospitals must do more to help both homeless and mentally ill patients.

In the most recent case, advocates said the man was discharged form the hospital and dumped from a wheelchair on Monday, Jan. 22 around noon.

"I don't know if they dumped him out of the wheelchair or got him out of the wheelchair and told him he could not come back to the hospital -- and that's how they left him," Welch said. "I mean point blank -- they took him out like they take out the trash. That's what happened."

Aurora Sinai Medical Center

Below is a statement from Aurora Health Care:

"Yesterday, a member of the community made us aware of a very troubling situation at our downtown facility. While this is a highly complex case, it is clear that our protocols and values were not followed, and we’re deeply troubled by this. We’re taking this matter very seriously and have suspended the individuals involved, pending an investigation.

We’ve set up a task force to help best address these complicated cases and ensure safe discharge planning for vulnerable individuals. We’ve reached out to key community leaders asking them to join us on our task force and in our efforts. We believe that, together, we can find long-term solutions.

We’re also re-educating caregivers on our service commitments to treat all patients with dignity and respect. What occurred was contrary to our values, and we’re doing everything that we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again."

Welch said the patient in this case was back on the street Tuesday, and he's known as a "hospital jumper" -- a homeless individual who goes to hospitals to get out of the elements. She said she's happy Aurora is tackling this issue and looking for ways to help these individuals instead of just putting them back out on the street.

"It's sad that it took another time for it to happen, and social media, but I am impressed they are being very proactive now," Welch said.