Kevin has been stuck in the hospital for 31 days – and counting

Kevin has been in St. Joseph Hospital for 31 days

My son Kevin is a 26 year old man with severe autism and he is developmentally delayed (around 5 years old developmentally). Kevin has been in a Bellingham group home for the last four years (Access Living). Before that, he was a resident at Fircrest RHC in Shoreline for five years. For the last six months Kevin has been having behavioral problems. His psychiatrist attempted to adjust his medications with no positive results. Now we know the behavioral problems were the result of increased ammonia levels due to a couple of his medications. For months he has been frustrated, sleeping all day and awake all night. Kevin has a history of poor self-regulating skills and can lose control and throw a tantrum when under stress. He is 6′ 2″ and during these instances he can harm those around him. My son has assaulted his caregivers and his roommates several times in the last six months. Each time the police were called and he was handcuffed and sent to the ER at St. Joseph Hospital. Once the crisis is over, promptly he feels bad and goes back to being a kind, loving child.

In November he was at the hospital for five days due to self-harming behaviors and hitting one of the caregivers. Again in January 7th he became anxious and hit a caregiver and a wheelchair bound roommate. Police were called and Kevin was taken to the ER. He was transferred to SECU in a room with another four patients. This unit is an extension of the ER, where patients with violent behaviors are placed on hold. Definitely not a good place for an autistic individual due to the loud screaming and the aggressive behaviors of patients around. When I went to the hospital he was crying, very scared, and asking to go home. I took him home with me and when I called his group home the next day, they let me know that he was not allowed to come back to his house. (Access Living wants to work with us and is attempting to rent a new house where Kevin can have his own space).

Kevin was with his father and I for two days as we were attempting to take care of him in our home until a new living situation was arranged. Sadly, he became agitated the third night because he wanted to go to his home in Bellingham. After he threw chairs and pushed his father and I, sadly we were not able to help him settle down. We were forced to call 911 at he was taken to the hospital again. He was in SECU that night and the next day he was transferred to a medical care unit. He has been there since the 10th.

We have been trying to get help from DDA but they have no answers. I contacted the admissions office at Fircrest on January the 11th and was informed that there was a great chance of them to accept Kevin on one of their respite beds since he was a Fircrest resident in the past. I informed Kevin’s care manager, but he let me know that it was out of his hands and the paperwork needed to be reviewed first by a DDA committee in Everett. It took from January 10th until February 4th for the file to be sent to Fircrest to apply for a respite bed. I called the person in charge of Kevin’s case in the Everett DDA office on 2/5 and he let me know that there are no respite beds available “anywhere” for my son at this time. We are desperate at this point, as the hospital is not the best place for an individual like Kevin.

St. Joseph Hospital staff have been great with my son (I work on the same floor as a floor RN), but Kevin will be better served in a place where he can go outside for walks and have more freedom to ambulate. He is in his hospital room 24/7 and this is harmful to his mental/emotional stability. The only good news is a new psychiatrist who is an expert on autism took Kevin’s case and she has changed his medications due to toxicity found in his blood work. We have already seen remarkable positive changes in his behaviors but the last four days he has started to do self-harm due to the stress of being confined for such a long time.

We feel helpless and discouraged since we are not able to help our child. Putting Kevin through this experience is wrong! More has to be done to help DD patients and their families during crisis situations like this. Please feel free to share our story, Kevin deserves better from the system.
Marcie Alspaugh

Addendum:  Video from June 2014 with footage of Kevin while he lived at Fircrest – Kevin is seen at 1:12 and 1:26 in this short video:

2 comments on “Kevin has been stuck in the hospital for 31 days – and counting

  1. Carolyn Guinotte says:

    I am do sorry to hear this. Our don who is 39yrs old with Autism is on the same boat having been st tick at St Peter’s hospital now for 36 days. He got dropped from SL and lost his house that he had rented for 7 years with 2 other men also under the care of the same SL agency. Our son min managed to stay on that house since he had paid rent and had done nothing wrong, the house owners fidnt see any reason for him being kicked out so he managed to stay but finding staff was hard and as he was no longer on SL he had to be reassed to get CFC hours
    ..a measly 189 hrs per month so we appealed and got another 98 hours added. Still not the 24/7 he needed and was once getting. The DDA really are very broken. They ri. Theircshipped on badly b.c written WAC policies that need and can be changed if enough people speak up. Just ho to the Financial Management site and fill put the petition firm on policy changes like I did. Not only is the demotion of support hours from fu time to only 8hrs a day wrong but the CARE tool assessment is wrong as it doesnt father to developmentally people only physically handicapped people.
    He had to go to hospital as we, his parents just aren’t able to cope when he has meltdowns.
    Thankfully a house bill has been introduced to prevent these vulnerable people from being dumped into hospitals. The agency that refuse to continue support have to have a plan in place for the client to have somewhere to go but must give 30 day notice. DDA are trying also to rehome all those in the RHCs so the SL agencies are full up.
    Also what to je is wrong is that the SL agencies are private businesses and dont seem to have any accountability. They pick and choose who to look after and can dump at any time so long as they follow the WACs. SOLAs are a great idea..miniature RHCs as they are staffed and run in total by the state. We need more SOLAs and more crisis rrspite beds. We need to keep RHCs ioen for such times too. And no matter what region you live in these vulnerable adults should get given fair and equal treatment and consideration.
    I have heard stories of people being left in hospitals for months snd months and DDA are stuck to what to do as the community has nothing for them. Sad and scary. Talk to your senator…we have…Senators can help with Bill’s and budgets.

    Like

  2. Carolyn Guinotte says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. Our son who is 29yrs old with Autism is on the same boat having been stuck at St Peter’s hospital now for 36 days. He got dropped from SL and lost his house that he had rented for 7 years with 2 other men also under the care of the same SL agency. Our son min managed to stay on that house since he had paid rent and had done nothing wrong, the house owners fidnt see any reason for him being kicked out so he managed to stay but finding staff was hard and as he was no longer on SL he had to be reassed to get CFC hours
    ..a measly 189 hrs per month so we appealed and got another 98 hours added. Still not the 24/7 he needed and was once getting. The DDA really are very broken. They ri. Theircshipped on badly b.c written WAC policies that need and can be changed if enough people speak up. Just ho to the Financial Management site and fill put the petition firm on policy changes like I did. Not only is the demotion of support hours from fu time to only 8hrs a day wrong but the CARE tool assessment is wrong as it doesnt father to developmentally people only physically handicapped people.
    He had to go to hospital as we, his parents just aren’t able to cope when he has meltdowns.
    Thankfully a house bill has been introduced to prevent these vulnerable people from being dumped into hospitals. The agency that refuse to continue support have to have a plan in place for the client to have somewhere to go but must give 30 day notice. DDA are trying also to rehome all those in the RHCs so the SL agencies are full up.
    Also what to je is wrong is that the SL agencies are private businesses and dont seem to have any accountability. They pick and choose who to look after and can dump at any time so long as they follow the WACs. SOLAs are a great idea..miniature RHCs as they are staffed and run in total by the state. We need more SOLAs and more crisis rrspite beds. We need to keep RHCs ioen for such times too. And no matter what region you live in these vulnerable adults should get given fair and equal treatment and consideration.
    I have heard stories of people being left in hospitals for months snd months and DDA are stuck to what to do as the community has nothing for them. Sad and scary. Talk to your senator…we have…Senators can help with Bill’s and budgets.

    Like

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