HOUSTON -- St. Joseph Medical Center, well known for providing care to patients in need, now stands accused of losing one of them for days.
"How can they treat somebody like that," said Rose Zuniga, referring to her 69-year-old mother who suffers from diabetes and remains partially paralyzed from a stroke.
Zuniga says her mom, Mary Reyna, was taken to the hospital by ambulance Saturday when she started to suffer from what was believed to be an anxiety attack.
"I felt that putting her in the hospital was the best place where she'd get the best help," said Zuniga.
But soon, an unsettling mystery began to unfold. Zuniga claims when she called the hospital two hours later, she was told her mom had been discharged even though no one from the family had been notified.
"And I said what do you mean you released her," said Zuniga. "And they said we just released her on her own."
Days went by. Family members called other hospitals and even the police. But they say on Tuesday, St Joseph employees informed them of the unimaginable.
"They found her on the fourth floor of a stairwell," said Zuniga. "I said, 'you mean she's been there almost two or three days?'"
Family members say Reyna was found wallowing in her own waste.
"She was all dirty. She was like passing out."
Reyna's in a room now, a bit confused and emotional. She told us a hospital worker locked her inside a different room for three days until she managed to escape and then climbed into a stairwell. She says she loves her family, especially the daughter who's convinced someone from the hospital should pay.
Hospital spokesperson Glenda Newby released the following statement:
"We can confirm that we received a complaint from the family of a patient recently discharged. As a hospital that provides care to hundreds of patients each day, St. Joseph Medical Center takes the welfare of its patients seriously and responds quickly any time it learns of a complaint. In immediate response to this matter, we have commenced an internal review which is ongoing. What we know so far is that, after the patient was discharged, the hospital staff immediately attempted to reach the patient's family but, unfortunately, had been given incorrect contact information by the patient. When hospital staff returned promptly to obtain additional contact information from the patient, she had left the waiting area on her own. It is our top priority to understand what happened after this patient was discharged and we will work with the family toward that end."