A D.C. Superior Court judge wants a 10-year-old boy who has been stuck in a Children’s National Medical Center psychiatric ward for more than a month to be discharged from the hospital Monday.
Senior Judge Eugene N. Hamilton’s declaration on Thursday indicates that the boy’s unusual stay in the hospital could soon end. The boy was admitted Sept. 15 after stabbing a relative and threatening suicide, court papers say. Since then neither his mother — his father does not have custody rights — nor Prince George’s County authorities, where she lives, have come for him. The hospital eventually sued them for the boy’s release, saying it can no longer offer him the care he needs.
A Philadelphia facility has accepted the boy for treatment upon his discharge, but paperwork regarding payment has not been completed after more than a week of wrangling.
But on Thursday, Hamilton said the boy has languished in the hospital too long.
“I’m going to release this child on Monday — to somebody,” said Hamilton, who has held seven hearings in the case. “I have to do something to stop this merry-go-round.”
The boy could be moved to the Philadelphia facility Monday morning. But if the paperwork finalizing the move is not completed, lawyers for both the hospital and the boy’s mother expressed concerns about him being released temporarily into his mother’s care.
Rhea Yo, the court-appointed attorney for the boy’s mother, said several day-treatment centers in Prince George’s County have declined to admit the boy, saying he needed care they could not provide.
At the center of the debate over the boy’s next move has been the question of who will pay for his care. On Thursday, Milton McIver, an attorney with the Prince George’s Department of Social Services, said Medicaid and Maryland health authorities will bear responsibility.
The Post was permitted to cover the hearing on the condition that the boy and his family not be identified.
Although Hamilton said he wants the boy discharged by Monday, hospital officials — who filed the civil suit against the county and the parents — say they are reluctant to discharge him unless he is released to a safe environment such as the Pennsylvania facility.
“We are trying everything we can to do a safe discharge,” said hospital attorney Kenneth Rosenau. “But time is of the essence.”