Tulsa Mom Upset Autistic Son Being Moved From Hospital To DHS Shelter
TULSA, Oklahoma - The mom of a severely autistic teen said he was forced out of a hospital where he's receiving the medical care he needs and is now in a DHS shelter.
His mother, Julie Swaim, said she’s worried her son will take a turn for the worse without the proper care.
Swaim's 15-year-old son can't talk and is still in diapers. She said he needs to stay in a hospital-like setting, but, instead, he's sleeping at the Laura Dester DHS shelter.
Swaim is the mother of three boys - two have autism; one is high-functioning, but the other is very severe.
"No one gives birth to a child and thinks, 'At 11-years-old I really hope you don't live with me for the rest of my life.' That's something I have really grappled with and come to peace with," she said.
Swaim said she's never given up her rights but felt the agency could help him when he became violent because it has access to residential treatment centers.
"Became aggressive to the point where he put his own head through the wall, on different occasions, when he was so frustrated,” she said.
Swaim said after her son spent 153 days at St. Francis Children's Hospital, she believed that is where he received the best care.
She said, "Helping feed him, helping diaper him - all of this, every day - and his sitters and nurses, who have been fantastic to him, it takes all of us. It takes all those shifts of people coming in.”
He ended up there after spending time at a group home where he received an arm wound that never healed.
“He wasn't receiving the proper medical attention. It got so infected that a good six to eight inches were dead," said Swaim.
Now he's at the Laura Dester shelter.
Friday morning, Swaim received a phone call from DHS telling her he was getting discharged.
“I hope it doesn't take 153 days of great progress that they have made with him and set him back in a matter of hours," she said.
She believes he's being forced to leave the hospital because of funding issues.
The Oklahoma Health Care Authority pays for the state's Medicaid and faces a budget cut of more than $1 million.
Swaim wants him transferred to a long-term treatment facility in Texas that is equipped to handle his needs.