“Don Meade doesn’t like hospitals, but he uses them. In just one year, he made 62 trips to the emergency room. He rattles off the names of local hospitals in Orange and Los Angeles counties like they’re a handful of pills.
“‘St. Joseph’s in Orange, [Saddleback Memorial in] Laguna Hills,’ he says. ‘The best one for me around here is PIH in Whittier.’
At 52, Meade has chronic heart disease and other serious ailments, and he is recovering from a longtime addiction to crack cocaine. Today, he lives with his dog Scrappy in a small apartment in Fullerton.
Beyond making a trip to the ER pretty much every week of the year, Meade has had innumerable X-rays, scans, tests and hospital admissions — all of it on the taxpayers’ and hospitals’ dime, since he is a beneficiary of Medi-Cal, the state and federal program for the poor.”