NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Children in state custody are spending months in Tennessee hospitals as a result of the Department of Children’s Services has no place else to place them.
The kids have been medically cleared however tie up hospital beds that may very well be utilized by others, particularly throughout occasions of heightened demand.
One youngster spent greater than 9 months — 276 days — residing at a kids’s hospital after he ought to have been launched.
Some hospital officers inform NewsChannel 5 Investigates they’re turning into a dumping floor for teenagers DCS can’t place.
The Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee (CHAT), which represents kids’s hospitals statewide, mentioned in a press release the kids “account for a lot of tons of of further days through which hospital care is just not wanted.”
TennCare covers the price of hospital care for kids in DCS custody however wouldn’t disclose how a lot taxpayers are spending on the prolonged stays.
The Department of Children’s Services mentioned these children are arduous to put in foster care, and since they’re medically fragile, they can’t keep in DCS workplace buildings like another kids have been doing.
It typically begins in a pediatric emergency room.
A DCS caseworker takes a baby to the hospital with a real medical drawback.
Usually the kids have simply been faraway from an abusive or neglectful residence.
But as soon as the hospital says the kid can go away, DCS says they haven’t any place for the kid to go.
State Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, was disturbed by the small print we confirmed her.
“Our state is failing. I feel we have failed these kids and we have fairly frankly failed DCS,” Campbell mentioned.
Examples embrace a 10-year-old with Muscular Dystrophy who stayed for 103 days on the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.
DCS couldn’t discover a placement for the kid after his mom died of COVID and his father couldn’t look after him.
Another 10-year-old with extreme autism was housed for 51 days in the identical hospital.
He was finally despatched to a facility out of state as a result of DCS didn’t have a spot for him.
And an insulin-dependent diabetic stayed for days as a result of hospital notes reveal “DCS wouldn’t take (the kid) to workplace attributable to insulin photographs required.”
“To select between workplace flooring and hospitals is just not an inexpensive alternative,” Sen. Campbell mentioned.
DCS left a baby with a psychological well being prognosis at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for 270 days.
The youngster occupied a room from May of 2021 via February of 2022.
The company left one other youngster at a hospital in Johnson City for 243 days, lengthy after the kid ought to have been launched.
DCS Commissioner Margie Quin, who took over the company in September, informed Gov. Bill Lee, R-Tennessee, throughout funds hearings the company has been getting calls from hospitals involved about children staying long-term.
“These are youth which might be extraordinarily tough to put,” Quin mentioned.
“They are staying 100 days in hospitals, and they don’t seem to be acutely unwell, however they can not keep in an workplace, and they don’t seem to be applicable in transitional houses,” Quin informed the Governor.
DCS has a scarcity of foster care houses and in consequence has been compelled to have some kids sleep in workplace buildings.
A DCS legal professional mentioned “kids in wheelchairs will also be arduous to put. The hardest conditions are these with each medical and behavioral/psychological well being wants.”
Commissioner Quin requested greater than $8.7 million to fund “Assessment Treatment Homes” that might be positioned throughout the state and would hold among the medically hard-to-place children.
“They actually need specialised care, and we simply do not have programming for them,” Commissioner Quin mentioned within the funds listening to.
Sen. Campbell cannot imagine the state is commonly selecting between workplace flooring and hospital rooms.
“Let’s be accountable and provides the cash to DCS that we have to care for kids,” Campbell mentioned.
“Our state has more cash proper now than we have had in a long time, in reserves, and there may be completely no purpose why we won’t ensure that we’re caring for our most susceptible,” Campbell mentioned.
Lee signaled within the funds listening to that he was keen to fund requests from DCS for more cash.
But even when the funds request is accredited, it’s months away from serving to — elevating questions on what will be completed now.
“These are points we should always completely be capable to take care of within the Department of Children’s Services with out sending children to the hospital,” Senator Campbell mentioned.
Here is the complete assertion from the Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee (CHAT):
“Children’s hospitals function the protection internet for the bodily and psychological well being and well-being of kids and adolescents. For a couple of decade, kids’s hospitals, in TN and nationally, have seen a big enhance within the variety of youth presenting with a major psychological well being prognosis, due to the shortage of available companies and a fragmented supply system for these companies.
Another group of kids discovering themselves admitted to the kids’s hospitals in our state are these in DCS custody. These youth are sometimes dropped at pediatric emergency rooms due to a real medical or behavioral want. However, when they’re prepared for discharge, DCS groups are challenged with discovering applicable placement choices, thereby delaying discharge. While these kids stay in hospitals, it ties up assets that may very well be utilized by different kids. Lengths of hospital stays throughout the state vary from a number of days to months, with one kids’s hospital reporting the longest keep of 276 days.
Collectively, these sufferers account for a lot of tons of of further days through which hospital care is just not wanted. DCS often cites restricted to no placement choices and struggles with inadequate assets to adequately workers and assist these kids of their care. New DCS Commissioner, Margie Quin, not too long ago acknowledged the problem of lengthy hospital stays for some kids and has outlined a plan to sort out this and different points DCS faces via necessary measures resembling extra funding and elevated coaching and elevated assist for case employees.
Mary Nell Bryan, President of the Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee, mentioned, “The Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee appreciates that the employees of the Department of Children’s Services work hard to address challenges in finding foster homes for children who are medically fragile or dealing with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes.. There are sometimes not enough appropriate places for such transfers to happen quickly. We appreciate that Commissioner Quin has requested more funding and outlined a plan that includes increased training and increased support for case workers. The work of DCS case workers and other DCS staffers is vitally important. As can also be said about those who work in hospitals, while this work can present challenges, it is also extremely rewarding. We urge families to consider fostering children who are medically fragile or who are dealing with a chronic condition such as diabetes.”