Abuse and Neglect in the Hospital

I am beside myself with anger, frustration and helplessness regarding the situation with our friend, Kevin.
Kevin has not been “on hold” in the ER at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Washington since April 24, 2019 (for this episode)

PeaceHealth

Below are messages that I received from Kevin’s mom and legal guardian last night and this afternoon.  Kevin is a 26 year old young adult.  Kevin is autistic and is a vulnerable adult with a legal guardian.

“Cheryl, the hospital let Kevin leave the hospital and he was on scrubs and no shoes running down one of the busiest streets in town. He made it to the respite bed where he was a couple of weeks ago. He ran in the middle of cars for 2 miles. They called me and let me know he was there, the hospital called me after the respite bed told them he was there. He had blood blisters in his feet. Then they had the audacity to tell Tom (respite care administrator) that Kevin checked himself out of the hospital. The police came later and took him.

“The police took him back to the hospital and told the ER manager that Kevin is gravely disabled and should not be let go in streets like this.

I have asked for a DMHP assessment, but they are giving me the run around

He has blisters on his feet and sticks stuck in his skin – the doctor is supposed to see him sometime today.

They just called me and said they will let him leave again. I guess the DMHP assessment was not done because it was done when he first got to the ER.

It’s a never-ending mess.”

I went to the Bellingham police station and they said that when they drop him off at the ER they let the hospital know that he is a danger to himself and others and needs to be in involuntary confinement.  The hospital disagrees.  I hope he does not escape again tonight – it was a miracle that he didn’t get hit by a car yesterday.

This ongoing nightmare has been reported to the DD Ombudsman, Adult Protective Services, the Department of Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration yet no action is taking place and the hospital is continuing to neglect Kevin and put his life at risk.

As a mother, nurse and advocate I am totally appalled and sickened by the lack of attention and concern that these state agencies, which are there to provide protection and care and the hospital which is to provide safe, appropriate healthcare continue with this neglect.

This is more than insane – is anyone listening?  Does anyone have any solutions?

Kevin’s mother has requested over and over again to allow Kevin to return to Fircrest Residential Habilitation Center (one of our States’ Intermediate Care Facilities) but DDA has continued to refuse saying there are no beds.  If this is an entitlement and there is “no refusal” how can DDA say there are no beds?

Is the only choice to let the hospital and state agencies continue to neglect their duties until Kevin runs into the street and gets killed by a car?  Then what?

Susannah Frame – King 5 Investigator – Please read this and help!

 

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: