Late one Friday afternoon, our Program Director, Chien received a distressed call from a 50-year-old woman, Lynn asking for help. She was quite emotional when she explained to Chien she had just received a discharge letter which said her 54-year-old brother, Richard, who had schizophrenia was going to be discharged from the nursing home community he had been living in the last few years. The letter stated the reason for the discharge was due to the fact he had verbally threatened the staff of the community.
Lynn also went on to explain the community had called her weeks before letting her know they were going to discharge him. She asked that he not be discharged and then only a few weeks later she was surprised to receive the discharge letter.
Lynn was not only Richard’s sister, but she was also his legal guardian. She had lived a lifetime with her brother’s schizophrenia and knew all too well he needed to be in the constant care of professionals because of his schizophrenia.
Chien investigated further the reasoning for the discharge and thankfully he understood the process and discussed with the administrator three reasons this discharge was not valid. 1) He reminded the administrator in order to admit anyone with a schizophrenia diagnosis; they first had to undergo a “Level 2 Screening” by a psychiatrist. So they had full knowledge of the seriousness of his diagnosis and history. When they admitted him, they had agreed to provide the care he required; 2) Richard had only verbally threatened the staff. He had never threatened any of the residents nor had he ever been violent with anyone. This was not grounds to discharge Richard; 3) Legally, the discharge letter must be copied to VOYCE, a psychiatrist, an emergency contact, a primary care physician and also indicate the place he will be discharged to. Only Lynn, as the emergency contact, had been included in the discharge letter.
As a result of Chien’s conversation with the administrator, explaining the three reasons it was not a valid discharge; the administrator rescinded her discharge letter.
Richard’s sister, Lynn was fighting back tears as she thanked Chien for his help with her brother. Richard could remain in the community which was only a minute walk from Lynn’s home so she could visit and which Richard has called home for years.
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