In the early days of the AIDS crisis, a Florida hospital chartered a private jet to fly one of their patients – a 27-year-old man diagnosed with AIDS – to San Francisco, where he was deposited at a local AIDS foundation with $300 in cash.
Morgan MacDonald from Vero Beach, Florida was discharged from Shands Hospital at the University of Florida at Gainesville in October 1983 and immediately flown to San Francisco, where he was abandoned. MacDonald said Shands Hospital transported him to California against his will. Before his hospitalization, he lived in a religious commune in Florida.
Shands Hospital spent $7,000 for a Learjet to fly MacDonald to San Francisco. He was left on a stretcher at the office building of a city-funded AIDS foundation, which transferred him to the AIDS Ward at San Francisco General Hospital. Dianne Feinstein, then-Mayor of San Francisco, sent a telegram to Governor Bob Graham of Florida, informing him that a public hospital in his state dumped an unwanted AIDS patient on her city. She called the incident “outrageous and inhumane.”
The hospital defended its actions, saying MacDonald no longer needed hospital care and the hospital was unable to find a Florida nursing home that would accept him. The hospital’s public relations director said that the AIDS Foundation in San Francisco agreed to give MacDonald 30 days of free housing.
But Dr. Mervyn Silverman, San Francisco’s public health director, said the Florida hospital had contacted both the City of San Francisco and the AIDS Foundation and “played us one off against the other.”
Dr. Silverman said that while MacDonald was free to return to Florida, his condition was acute and it was essential that he receive appropriate care. Morgan MacDonald died 21 days later at San Francisco General at the age of 27.