CW: Abuse, Neglect, and Institutionalization:
According to state inspection reports, Kenton Manor in Greeley, CO, disregarded state laws and released a person with no discharge plan in place. The man has complex medical needs, which include seizures. He also is behaviorally fragile and had become unmanageable. According to the reports, Kenton Manor gave the man a 30-day notice that he was being discharged, but he had nowhere to go.
Yet, on October 6, 2017, a driver and a social worker from the nursing home drove the man to an independent living facility where he lived but no longer had a lease, then left the man in a wheelchair in the lobby. According to the report, the resident threw up after being left in the lobby of his former independent living facility. Additionally, three Fentanyl patches were found on his back. The patches hadn’t been changed, one of which had been on his back for at least 24 hours.
Another instance of wrongful discharge involved a 67-year-old man admitted to the hospital after testing positive for tuberculosis. He was treated and cleared to return to the nursing home. He wasn’t contagious anymore. However, Glenwood Springs Health Care employees refused to admit the man back. One employee expressed concern about working with a man treated for tuberculosis. If the man returned, the employee threatened to quit.
Sometimes, people are stuck in hospitals due to complex behavioral needs. Carolyn Guinotte took her son Alan to the emergency room in January 2017 because he was dealing with constipation. Alan was 30 years old, autistic, and had limited verbal skills. When it was time for Alan to leave the hospital, Guinotte and her husband said they couldn’t bring him back home. They lacked the resources needed to give Alan proper care.
The state of Washington had no suitable placements in the community for their son either. As a result, he remained in the hospital. In turn, his parents experienced prolonged stress due to that choice, which advocates said exposes a crisis in Washington’s services for people with developmental disabilities.
As of September 2019, Alan remained a patient in a specialized ward at Western State Hospital, one of the state’s two psychiatric facilities. According to his family, he was cleared to be discharged back into the community. Alan was still at the hospital, however, because there weren’t many options for community-based placement.
Alan received care at Western State’s Habilitative Mental Health Treatment Program (HMH). It is a 30-bed unit for people with developmental disabilities and behavioral health issues. The unit was established in response to a lawsuit brought in the late 1990s on behalf of developmentally disabled psychiatric patients who, according to lawyers, were subjected to abuse and neglect in state hospitals.
The Guinottes had been attempting to care for Alan in their Olympia-area home before he visited the emergency room that January. This was a very recent arrangement. Alan previously shared a home with two other clients of the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA). The residence has a 24-hour staff.
However, in October 2018, Alan’s care provider informed his parents that he was no longer a client, citing his behavior and proclivity for outbursts. The Guinottes decided to bring Alan home because of this. But soon, his parents, who were both still working, began to feel the stress associated with caring for and supervising Alan, even with the assistance of outside caretakers.
Then there was his health scare and trip to the ER. The Guinottes determined that Alan’s need for round-the-clock care and monitoring was too much for them to bear. Alan stayed at Providence St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia, WA since he had no other options.
His agitation increased the longer he was there. He flooded his room and fled the hospital. Alan was eventually assessed by a mental health professional, who determined that he met the requirements for involuntary psychiatric care. He was sent to Western State Hospital by court order. Finally, Alan was admitted to the HMH after a few weeks of waiting.
People with disabilities should be able to live in their communities. They shouldn’t be stuck in hospitals where their needs aren’t being met. A psychiatric hospital is not an appropriate place for an autistic adult to live. Alan expressed his desire to go home within the first few weeks. His mother said it was heartbreaking to her. Care can’t wait, and everyone has the right to live in the community.
Jenkins, Austin. “’It Feels Really Horrible’: Developmentally Disabled Adults Stuck in Washington Psychiatric Hospitals.” Northwest Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio, 15 Sept. 2019, https://www.nwpb.org/2019/09/16/it-feels-really-horrible-developmentally-disabled-adults-stuck-in-washington-psychiatric-hospitals/.
Jojola, Jeremy. “Nursing Home Dumped Man Unable to Care for Himself in Lobby of Independent Living Facility.” KUSA.com, NBC, 26 Nov. 2018, https://www.9news.com/article/news/local/investigations/nursing-home-dumped-man-unable-to-care-for-himself-in-lobby-of-independent-living-facility/73-614272560.