A 13-year-old boy with autism has been living in the emergency department of a Colorado hospital for weeks after being abandoned there by his father, the Denver Post reported Friday.
The boy was brought to UCHealth’s Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont, Colorado, June 6 on an “M1” and was abandoned by his father, the Longmont Leader reported, citing email records obtained through a Colorado Open Records Act request.
An “M1” is a reference to a Colorado law regarding involuntary mental health treatment for people experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
The boy was in LPH’s emergency department without an adult, “unsupervised apart from hospital staff,” the Leader also reported, citing an email from Chantell Taylor, vice president of government and regulatory affairs at UC Health.
When the boy was medically and psychiatrically cleared for discharge from LPH June 7, his father refused to pick him up. Staff reportedly attempted to place him in an inpatient psychiatric facility, but found he did not meet admission criteria, according to email records acquired by the Post.
A police report for neglect and three reports to Child Protective Services did not resolve the problem, the Post also reported.
Colorado state Rep. Judy Amabile got involved in the case when a hospital employee asked her to intervene, CBS News reported.
The employee reportedly told Amabile that Boulder County Human Service workers at first agreed to take custody of the boy, later refusing to take custody because the boy was “safe” in the emergency department.
“Boulder County DHS has not spent more than five minutes with this child since his arrival three weeks ago,” the employee who wrote to Amabile for help reportedly said.
“I don’t know whether the dad may or may not have reached out and ask for help but may not been able to get any help. Like we just … we don’t know, but what we do know is that you can’t just leave a 13-year-old in an ER for weeks on end with no end in sight,” Amabile said, as quoted by CBS.
State and county workers are trying to find placement for the boy after he has been forced to live at the hospital for almost a month, the outlet also said.
It is not clear whether the boy is still living at LPH.
The Colorado Department of Human Services told CBS News the department could not comment on the case based on health privacy protections.
“While we cannot share or confirm protected health information, UCHealth hospitals, staff members and providers always strive to provide excellent care and a safe environment for anyone who enters our facilities. Patients are always our top priority. However, hospitals are not equipped to provide long-term services for people who do not need acute medical care,” Kelli Christensen, UCHealth’s public and media relations manager, told TheBlaze in a statement.
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