Day 21

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.

4 thoughts on “Day 21

  1. Perhaps you should “take the lead” on making these changes rather than poking the people that don’t make budgetary decisions…speak with your representative about these issues directly. There are people that work in this field with the same frustrations, because they don’t have the budgetary backup necessary to make things right for the people with disabilities that they serve daily.

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  2. Housing stock is at a premium, we all know this. But there are blockages in the stream of housing in nearly every community. What I mean is there are people in more supervised arrangements who can move on to more independent living arrangements with supports. What happens is providers tend to keep people in place when there are options to move forward. Sometimes consider those people to be well-behaved (whatever that might mean) and they get reimbursed for providing their services, which could be less intensive (less expensive) services, because they are getting better over time. So the stream is not moving, it’s frozen, and no one moves. Then the housing that’s more supervised is not available to say, someone who needs it and should have it in order to exit a hospital. The conundrum is clear. The system is at a standstill for more reasons than I can iterate here. But a system rooted in recovery (that any person can attain the highest level of independence they can access) plans for levels of care based on real need not on who has the fewer number of names on a waitlist. We have a long way to go…

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  3. Curious how our federally funded Protection and Advocacy Agency (Disability Rights Washington) and advocacy agencies such as The Arc contributed to the welfare of Mason – and the many others who have been boarded in hospitals due to lack of support.

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  4. Kudos to spreading the word on these cases. It is a very common occurrence in Pierce Co. hospitals. Where do I begin with all of the negligence of such situations? It’s hard to determine but I will begin with the lack of ownership by the state of WA.

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