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Part 3: Desperate for help, far from home

Between 2014 and 2017, the state of Washington sent 16 patients with brain injuries to a rehabilitation hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

All of these patients had something in common: their injuries had led to behavior issues that were extremely hard to manage.

But once these patients got to Oklahoma, there was minimal oversight of their care by state officials and no plan for when they would return home.

In part three of our series, KUOW's Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports on one mother’s growing alarm.

About this series:
Beginning in 2014, Washington's Health Care Authority began sending patients with severe Traumatic Brain Injury to a private TBI treatment hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, called Brookhaven.

Once there, the patients were all but forgotten. No one from the state of Washington actively managed or supervised their care or planned for their return to Washington, until last spring. That's when a case manager at the Department of Social and Health Services was contacted about these patients.

Ever since she's been working to bring them home and find them placements in the community. As she's done this work, the case manager has discovered the patients had no access to primary care, but in a particularly ghoulish detail she's learned that at least four of the patients had their teeth extracted while they were at Brookhaven.

 

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."