Greg has been diagnosed as autistic with a mood disorder.
"I have no idea what my little boy is going through," she said. "I'm scared because I don't know what he's thinking, because his thoughts are so irrational. I don't know if he's thinking he's stuck or people are abandoning him."
The teen has been in and out of in-patient psychiatric facilities since he was 8 years old.
"I've had holes kicked in my walls; I've had my front window busted out. I have been punched, I have been kicked," Sandra Roskilly said. "He has taken a little eyeglass screwdriver and stabbed his therapist when she was coming to the home. Mental illness is real, and I mean I've had people go, 'Well, he's just spoiled.' No, he's not. I live on limited income; my son is very far from spoiled."
Fort Logan Mental Health Center was almost Greg's second home. He's been in and out of the facility more than five times. His mother says doctors and nurses there know Greg personally.
But the facility, run by the Colorado Department of Human Services, stopped taking new child, adolescent and geriatric patients Dec. 1 and will shut down its child and adolescent wings as of Jan. 1. It will shut down the geriatric unit sometime later in 2010. The CDHS says it will continue to provide inpatient psychiatric care for indigent adults.
The closures are a part of Gov. Bill Ritter's (D-Colorado) budget reductions announced in August. He had to cut more than $1 billion to close the budget shortfall. The state is getting rid of the 16-bed children's unit, the 18-bed adolescent unit and the 25-bed geriatrics unit. The latter will close some time next year.
These cuts were on top of another billion dollars in reduced spending made by state lawmakers earlier this year. Next year, they'll have to reduce spending by roughly another billion dollars.
"This is one of the choices that probably overall the department and the governor felt the most comfortable with," Joscelyn Gay, deputy executive director of the Office of Behavioral Health and Housing, said. "These are individuals who are not going to be left high and dry on the street with nothing. These are individuals who have insurance, generally, and where we do have a very rich community provider network to provide that care."
Fort Logan's patients generally have Medicare or, in Roskilly's case, Medicaid.
Gay says the facility's former patients will be able to go to Denver Health, The Children's Hospital or Cedar Springs Hospital in Colorado Springs.
The state also has 17 community mental health centers that can help.
"The thought was, these individuals will not be without services and that, frankly it's the business the state can get out of with the minimal, again the minimal, impact to, again, these really vulnerable populations," Gay said.
Paula Jung is a licensed clinical social worker at Fort Logan. She says her statements to 9NEWS represent only her opinions and not those of the health center
Jung believes there are not enough beds to accommodate all the children and adolescents who need them.
"They're going to be vying for so few beds against private insurance kids," Jung said. "To say they're better-served in the community when there's not enough community resources, that's a part that's confusing to me."
Denver Health and Children's have 10 and 18 inpatient beds for children and adolescents.
Both hospitals say the former Fort Logan patients will not be competing with private insurance patients because the facilities admit people based on need and the ability to treat them.
Mario Harding is the administrative director of behavioral health services at Denver Health. He oversees inpatient and outpatient services for adult, child and adolescent psychiatric units.
He says on average, his department treats 62 percent Medicaid patients and 25 percent commercial insurance patients.
"The closure of Fort Logan will certainly limit us from the standpoint of the ability to refer kids with complex or intensive psychiatric issues. We may be forced to take admission until something else opens up. It's not the most ideal situation," Harding said.
That is why Greg sits at an emergency room while doctors try to find a bed for him.
"Capacity is not the issue," Gay said. "It's really, again, providing the appropriate level of care at the appropriate time. Really for children and adolescents, we really need to push ourselves to find less restrictive settings than in patient hospitalization."
Children's says it's planning to expand the number of beds, but those details have not been finalized.
Denver Health plans to build a new building next year with a portion that will house children and adolescent psychiatric units. But that won't be complete until 2011. When it's done, the hospital will have 16 beds.
"There will be a need for kids to be hospitalized, so they can be stabilized," Harding said. "There needs to be enough community resources that aren't at capacity."
Until then, families like the Roskillys believe patients like Greg will sit in an empty room, waiting to be placed for treatment.
His mother says at Fort Logan, he had single and group therapy, he could watch TV if he earned it with good behavior.
As it is now, he's just waiting.
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