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Carmichael Hospice Center Defends Denying Dying Mother Care Because Neighborhood Isn't Safe

CARMICHAEL (CBS13) - A Carmichael hospital is standing by its decision to stop helping a dying cancer patient after a hospice nurse felt unsafe in the woman's Sacramento neighborhood.

Four days later, the patient died. Now her family says they're going to make sure this doesn't happen to another family.

"For them to do that, I can't comprehend that from a doctor. I can't comprehend that from nurses," said Jennifer Gallegos, Gloria Madrid's daughter.

She is keeping the promise she made to her mom -- to take care of her even after her death.

"We had to watch my mom suffer," said Barbara Hernandez, Madrid's daughter.

Madrid died four days after her hospice nurse stopped all home visits. Her daughters say they never received a call or warning. The nurse wouldn't show up.

"So I talked to the supervisor and she said we're going to discharge your mom, and I said 'what? Wait what do you mean,' " said Hernandez.

Hernandez says a Mercy Home Health and Hospice supervisor said the facility decided to discharge Madrid as a patient because the nurse didn't feel safe in her neighborhood after witnessing two teens smoking marijuana on the sidewalk.

Under the law, according to the California Department of Public Health, a hospice can discharge patients because of safety issues.

However, hospice nurses must "advise the patient that a discharge for cause is being considered... Make a serious effort to resolve the problem... As well as document the problem(s) and efforts made to resolve the problem(s)."

"There was no warning. There was nothing. There was never a phone call for us. I'm the one who called in," said Hernandez.

The family was left without medication to ease Madrid's pain in her last few days. They say she suffered because a hospice failed to do its job.

"You took an oath to help people. (It) doesn't matter who they are, where they live," said Gallegos.

The family plans to take legal action against Mercy Home Health and Hospice.

A spokesperson with Mercy San Juan Medical Center, which oversees the nurses, told CBS13 the safety of its patients and employees is its highest priority, and they immediately notify them when they can no longer provide hospice care.

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