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Unconscious man ‘is not a medical problem,’ Providence Milwaukie Hospital staff told police called to remove him; the man died that night

Jean M. Descamps sat unconscious in an emergency bed at Providence Milwaukie Hospital.

The hospital had summoned local police that night, December 12, to evict the 26-year-old after he refused to leave the hospital when offered a ride to a shelter for homeless people in the area.

Doctors told police that Descamps entered the hospital, doctors evaluated him and found “no medical reason for him to be here,” according to audio from the body camera footage of police released in response to The Oregonian/OregonLive’s public records request. (Warning: Body camera footage is graphic)

Twenty minutes after Milwaukie police left the hospital and stopped at the Unity Center for Behavioral Health in Northeast Portland with Descamps in the back seat of their patrol car, he was unconscious and did not could be resuscitated, according to the images.

Providence said in a statement Friday evening that it was sorry for Descamps’ death and that the hospital had failed him.

“And we offer our apologies and sympathy to his family and friends for their loss. In this case, we failed to achieve our goal of providing safe, reliable, and compassionate care to our patient,” the statement said. “The Milwaukie Police Department video is difficult to watch, and Providence is committed to doing everything we can to learn from it and improve our response to our most vulnerable patients.”

On the night of December 12, medical staff at Providence Milwaukie Hospital told police that they had provided Descamps with the overdose medication Narcan, arranged for him to go to a shelter and he had called a taxi, but did not want to leave, according to the body. camera images.

Milwaukie police officers learned Descamps had active arrest warrants in Clackamas and Multnomah counties and checked to see if they could take him into custody under those warrants. But the county jail wouldn’t accept him because he was nonverbal, drooling and wouldn’t answer basic questions from officers, the footage shows.

Two police officers handcuffed Descamps, picked him up and put him in a wheelchair, while his head was tilted forward. They took him to a parked police car and placed him in the back seat.

As a police officer returned to the emergency room to get the man’s hospital discharge papers, a police supervisor asked medical staff why they were not detaining Descamps, given his unresponsive state.

“He can’t be alone. Why is he released? » asked the police supervisor. “We have nowhere to take him.”

Medical staff assured police that the man did not need to be hospitalized. He had refused a taxi to a shelter and “wanted to stay here all night.” So that’s how it went for him,” a hospital employee told the Milwaukie police supervisor.

“It’s not really a medical issue,” a hospital employee reiterated to police at 10:26 p.m., according to audio from the body camera footage.

“It’s not a police problem either,” the police supervisor replied.

“It’s a community problem,” someone in the emergency room suggested.

After considering their options, Milwaukie officers decided to take the man into custody because he was unable to care for himself.

At 10:49 p.m., they left Providence Milwaukie Hospital and drove Descamps to another hospital, Unity Center for Behavioral Health in Portland, the region’s psychiatric emergency department.

Once Milwaukie’s patrol car stopped outside Unity’s front doors, an officer told an employee inside that the man they were transporting was unable to walk and that he was “in poor condition”. Police were advised to back the patrol car up to the ambulance bay.

A police officer backed the police car into the Unity ambulance bay at 11:04 p.m. He can then be seen putting gloves on his hands as he stood in front of the rear passenger side door of the patrol car .

“Hey, Jean, they’re going to come get you, okay?” the officer shouted through the rolled down window on the rear passenger side of the car. “Hey, John? Hey, Jean?

Getting no response, one officer can be heard asking the other: “Do you see his chest rising?”

At 11:07 p.m., Officer Timothy Cleary opened the rear door of the patrol car and checked his pulse as Descamps remained slumped forward in the back seat. “Hi, John. …Boy, I don’t know. I don’t know. Look at his eyes. …We need a medical here right away,” the officer told his partner.

Cleary and Officer Bradley Walther were unsure if Descamps had a pulse, found him unconscious, pulled him from the backseat of the patrol car and placed him on the ground in the ambulance bay outside of Unity.

The officers removed the handcuffs and, at 11:09 p.m., took turns administering emergency CPR to Descamps, before Unity medical personnel appeared and took over.

“Come on, buddy,” an officer said while continuing to pump on Descamps’ chest.

Unity also called an ambulance to respond.

Descamps was pronounced dead at the scene.

“It’s (expletive) bull (expletive),” one of the Milwaukie police officers at the scene said to a responding AMR paramedic. “I’ve been saying for years that it’s only a matter of time before they (Providence Milwaukie Hospital staff) refuse to provide care and force us to do something. …This guy doesn’t need to be dead now. Their mindset is, “Oh, it’s just another adjustment. » »

“It’s unfortunate. I feel bad,” the other officer said.

Descamps likely died of a “drug overdose with contributing natural causes,” according to the medical examiner’s preliminary findings. Portland police continue to investigate the death.

After Providence Milwaukie Hospital called police to remove Jean M. Descamps, 26, from the emergency department on Dec. 12, 2023, saying he did not have a medical problem, police transported him to Unity Center for Behavioral Health. He arrived unconscious and was pronounced dead in the Unity ambulance bay.

Milwaukie police released the body camera footage Friday evening after sharing it with Descamps’ family.

“We see every indication that our officers were trying to improve Mr. Descamps’ situation by providing him with additional care and treatment,” Milwaukie Chief Luke Strait said in a statement. “This is an unfortunate opportunity to review the system as a whole and assess any possible gaps that could contribute to an outcome like this. This sad event was difficult and disturbing for the Descamps family and our officers. Our thoughts are with the Descamps family and friends.

Providence Milwaukie Hospital has begun a “thorough internal review of our processes and procedures,” working with Oregon Emergency Physicians and the Oregon Health Authority, Providence said in its statement. It is also taking steps “so that people in our community can have confidence in the care we provide,” the statement said.

The Descamps family obtained a lawyer.

“The body camera footage was very difficult for the family to watch,” said Amity Girt, the family’s attorney. “That leaves a lot of questions.”

Jean Descamps’ mother, Desiree Descamps, said she didn’t understand why Providence Milwaukie didn’t keep her son. Based on the body camera footage, her son was not threatening or harming anyone in the emergency department, she said. He moaned sometimes but didn’t respond.

“I’m furious,” Désirée Descamps told The Oregonian/OregonLive Friday evening. “It looked like he needed serious medical help.”

It is unclear whether Narcan was administered to Descamps at either hospital, Girt and Descamps’ mother said.

Désirée Descamps said her son was living on the street.

“Only the drugs got him, and the streets got him,” she said. “I thought he would get help. It turned out that wasn’t the case.

–Maxine Bernstein

Email membernstein@oregonian.com; 503-221-8212

Follow on Twitter @maxoregonian

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