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Family fears hospital will release young man who contracted COVID-19 as psychiatric patient

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Posted at 8:23 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 20:24:36-05

PONTIAC (WXYZ) — "The hospital should keep him until he's not infectious," said Allison (not her real name) about Pontiac General Hospital where she said her brother has contracted COVID-19.

Allison said her brother, a man in his 20s, tested positive on Thanksgiving, weeks after he was first hospitalized for psychiatric care.

Allison said her family was told that her brother would be released from Pontiac General on Monday despite no facility being identified to take a COVID-positive patient.

"He's very resourceful, so we're worried he's going to call people and not tell them he has it and then show up at our house," Allison said.

Allison said her brother also has substance abuse problems and is unable to maintain a steady place to live.

A public relations specialist for Pontiac General Hospital told 7 Action News that they have been in contact with the patient's mother and that she, as his guardian, is aware that they will be releasing him Wednesday to a facility that can manage a COVID patient.

"That is not true," said his mother who spoke to us around 6:30 Monday evening. And she confirmed that they were told her son would be released Monday.

The family believes it was only after Action News became involved that hospital executives decided to keep her son until Wednesday, and she hopes when he is released, it will be to an appropriate facility.

The young man's mother has also been trying to get help through the courts under Kevin’s Law.

"I don't know what else to do at this point, and we certainly didn't want to put anybody else at risk with the COVID part," she told 7 Action News.

The patient's sister concerned what will happen if he's not transferred to an appropriate facility. "I'm worried about him using public transit to get here or him going to the homeless shelter and infecting people at the homeless shelter."

The public relations specialist for Pontiac General could not say if the facility that has now been identified for the young man is a senior living center.

The following is attributable to Sanyam Sharma, President & CEO, Pontiac General Hospital:

Our team works very hard to make sure every patient is placed in the appropriate environment, based on level of need and what insurance will allow. While we cannot comment on any specific case to protect this confidentiality due to HIPAA, I can assure you that we have protocols and I am confident that the planning for all patients being discharged is being followed. Let me be clear: We do not simply discharge a patient who needs further care into the community. We work with the patient and the guardian to ensure they are discharged to the best facility they qualify for. Not only is this what we are required to do, but it’s also the heart of the care we provide. We’re part of this community as well, and our focus is on everyone’s health and wellness.

Pontiac General Hospital follows an extensive discharge process. As part of this protocol, our discharge team works directly with the patient and legal guardian, as well as that patient’s insurance, to ensure an appropriate discharge plan. Sometimes, that means other family members are not involved in the plan, again because of confidentiality.

In situations where post-acute care or post-discharge care is needed, we work with the patient or legal patient guardian and third-party facilities to plan for appropriate continuum of care post-discharge, such as when COVID-19 is involved, identifying and making arrangements to discharge the patient to a facility that has COVID-19 protocols and policies in place that comply with standards set forth by the Michigan Department of Health.

Beyond this, we cannot provide any further specific details due to HIPAA.