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Autistic Man, 21, Finally In Group Home After Languishing For 5 Months In Hospital Emergency Department
Hartford Courant - 12/26/2017
Dec. 26--The young man with autism and an intellectual disability who languished at Manchester Memorial Hospital for five months after he was abandoned by his parents has finally been placed in temporary residential care and is receiving state services, officials confirmed Tuesday.
On Friday evening, following advocacy work by Disability Rights Ct in Hartford and a news story in The Courant, the young man was picked up by a private group-home operator with a contract with DDS. He will remain in the residential setting at least temporarily, officials said Tuesday.
Another community provider has offered to start in-home support on Jan. 15 -- but there is a question about whether the family will accept the services.
The young man was first dropped off at the hospital by his parents in late July after he reportedly assaulted his mother, father and brother. Between July 28 and Friday, he remained home for only 10 days, and hospital officials told the state Department of Developmental Services on several occasions that the situation was untenable.
DDS serves more than 16,000 clients -- at least 90 percent in private group homes, apartments, and in family homes. The remaining clients live at state run institutions or group homes, which use up a disproportionate amount of the department's roughly $1 billion annual budget.
Meanwhile, hospitals are seeing more people with intellectual disabilities, but with no pressing medical problems, being dropped off by parents or guardians. Often, families have been unable to obtain state services or are at a loss to know what else to do. More than 2,000 people are waiting for residential placements -- some have waited for more than 10 or even 20 years.
"We haven't seen caseload expansion, so it makes sense" that the problem with abandonment at hospitals would deepen, said DDS spokeswoman Katie Rock-Burns. She's chief of staff to Commissioner Jordan Scheff.
"We are working directly with a number of hospitals who receive individuals who may require our services," she said.
In the Manchester case, legal impediments, including a lack of consent by the family, delayed the department's response, Scheff had told The Courant on Friday.
The 21-year-old has behavior problems, and for five months he had shuttled between a hospital room, the busy emergency room, and an area normally reserved for psychiatric patients, according to Disability Rights Ct., which had taken up the cause at the behest of a hospital staff deeply concerned that they were not not equipped to care for him. On Friday, state officials said they were finally prepared to offer services to the young man.
While hospitals are seeing more of these cases, this was an extreme example, said Nancy Alisberg of Disability Rights Ct.
"The hospital is concerned something catastrophic will happen," she said on Friday.
At one point during the young man's stay, there was an 11-year-old child also abandoned at the Manchester emergency room. The boy had displayed sexually inappropriate behavior and the hospital staff was worried about the child's interaction with the 21-year-old, who would impulsively shed his clothing as he wandered around the emergency department. The boy reportedly remained there for more than a week before his mother was persuaded to take him back, Alisberg said.
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