After 3 weeks in the hospital Mason is finally heading to a place that can adequately meet his needs. This has been one of the strangest periods in my career. I would have never thought that an agency as large as the DDA would shift responsibility to a small critical access hospital without a plan for compensation. Now that Mason has a home, I’m going to steer the focus of this blog to this unfair practice. The DDA has a $3 billion biennial budget. It appears that the use of hospitals for temporary housing is widespread in our state. Given this, and if there is no plan to stop this practice, then funds should be allocated to compensate the hospitals for stepping up in this role. Obviously, this is the least that DDA should be doing. They need to immediately stop the practice of sending such patients to hospitals. They need to partner with the HCA and law enforcement to formulate a crisis plan appropriate to the needs of their clients. DCR’s understand that these are not cases of mental illness in the vast majority of situations and so involuntary treatment is not appropriate and “medical clearance” is then not necessary. It is also not the role of law enforcement to take people like Mason to jail. What options does this then leave? Mason was kept in a moderate sized hospital room with access to a bathroom, food and security. Surely the DDA has access to similar or better facilities within their reach? A small home could have been built for Mason and staffed with 24 hour security for the cost to our hospital. Not ideal, but certainly an option for a state agency.
I would love to hear more from folks out there who’ve had similar experiences in their own hospitals as well as those with solutions to this crisis.