You are all aware of my son Charlie Hughes’ story, because I submitted letters to each of you last week concerning HB 18-1136 and HB 18-1003.
I am in complete support of SB 18-270. I will give you 1 example of how this kind of transition team would have solved future problems immediately and how this might have saved my son’s life.
In 2017, while I was at a work related meeting and my husband was on a sales call, our son Charlie was at home starting to detox from drugs and alcohol combined. He called 911 threatening to commit suicide. He was so frustrated and upset about his addiction problem that he felt that this was his only option. The sheriffs department and I arrived at the same time. They took him in to the nearest ER to us and admitted him under a 72 hr involuntary hold. They also told me to stay away for the day.
Later in early evening, I called the nurse’s desk to see how he was doing. She checked with him, got his approval and then suggested I come in to visit him. I did. He was miserable. He had been secluded from the main hospital and was under surveillance by the guards, but, other than that had had no contact with any humans since they had admitted him. I was concerned, because there had been enough time gone by that he was probably getting ready to go into full on detox and would need IV fluids. I asked a nurse if they had given him IV’s and she snapped at me that he was in suicide watch and didn’t need an IV. I explained to her what my concern was, and she told me it was not my concern and huffed off. Then, I was really concerned because he had seizures when he withdrew, and if he was going to be in there for 72 hrs, he was going to have seizures and would they even take the time to deal with that properly? I asked her about that too. Instead of answering me, she had me escorted from the ER by an armed guard and did not answer my question.
I was very upset, but, decided I would just keep calling Charlie to check in with him and if he started having those symptoms I would go down and raise hell until they treated him, or I would take him out myself.
At 2:30 in the morning, the ER social worker called and said he was ready to be released. He was no longer drunk or high and they needed me to come and get him. I was really confused, because he was admitted by the sheriffs department on a 72 hr hold for suicide. She insisted that she was operating under the right assumptions and that he had passed all of her criteria for release. I asked if she could just wait until morning, or a decent time for me to come and pick him up. She said, well, I was listed as the person to call, and he had said I would be able to pick him up. I said, wait a minute, has this release been instigated by Charlie? Has he demanded to be released? She said, no, he couldn’t make that demand, only her recommendation could do that.
I said, ok, what if I say I can’t, what would you do? She said that she would ask him to leave on his own free will. In other words, she was kicking him to the curb as soon as I hung up, if I wasn’t willing to come and pick him up. A person admitted to her care on suicide watch who was now in full on detox mode.
So, I did, of course. Furious, crying, pissed off at this system that just kept ignoring our cries for help.
I picked him up and took him to another ER where they started him on IV’s and anti-seizure medication and he was there for the full next day. When stabilized they gave me the 6 days of anti-seizure medication and sent us home, where he normally did his detox.
During that detox time, I reported the first ER to the state commission.
From a cost effective point of view, that was 2 ER visits at 2 different hospitals. CHA says that these cost $15,000/day/each.
From a human and health care point of view, I know that a transition team would have been much more effective and would have put his feet on solid ground with professionals that could help him. And today, I would be texting with him about his latest job details, knowing when he got off work he would be practicing a new song on his guitar, and he would be planning his exciting future.
Instead, I am here talking to you, with his ashes sitting on my dresser.
Vote yes, don’t let this keep happening to any more families. Thank you for your time.