- A 13-year-old boy with autism has been left in a Colorado hospital’s emergency department for weeks after being abandoned by his father.
- Despite being cleared for discharge, the boy’s father refused to pick him up, and attempts to place him in an inpatient psychiatric facility were unsuccessful.
- Colorado State Rep. Judy Amabile intervened in the case, with state and county workers now trying to find an appropriate placement for the boy.
A 13-year-old boy with autism has been left abandoned in a Colorado hospital’s emergency department for weeks, demonstrating a disconcerting failure of social services in the state.
The boy was dropped off at the UCHealth’s Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont, Colorado on June 6, after which his father left him behind, according to the Denver Post.
The boy was brought to the hospital under an “M1,” a Colorado law pertaining to involuntary mental health treatment for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
After being medically and psychiatrically cleared for discharge the next day, the father refused to pick him up.
Hospital staff tried to place the boy in an inpatient psychiatric facility but found he didn’t meet the admission criteria, the Post reported based on email records.
Despite a police report for neglect and three reports to Child Protective Services, the situation remained unresolved.
Colorado State Rep. Judy Amabile became involved in the case after a hospital employee reached out for help, citing the Boulder County Human Service workers’ initial agreement, and subsequent refusal, to take custody of the boy.
The workers refused because they deemed the boy to be “safe” in the hospital.
Rep. Amabile has expressed concern over the situation, stating, “I don’t know whether the dad may or may not have reached out and asked for help but may not have been able to get any help. Like we just…we don’t know, but what we do know is that you can’t just leave a 13-year-old in an ER for weeks on end with no end in sight.”
This alarming case highlights the urgent need for improved social services and the consequences of systemic failures.
The long-term solution for the boy remains uncertain, even as city, state, and county organizations scramble to find an appropriate placement for him after nearly a month in the hospital.
The Colorado Department of Human Services and Boulder County Human Services have refused to comment, citing health privacy protections.