CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The mother of a developmentally disabled man says he was raped last month at Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital, even though a judge ordered him into a treatment program and out of the hospital 15 months ago.
Kim Crose, Shawn Shumbera's mother, said that just days prior to the assault, hospital officials at Bateman had placed a forensic mental patient who was institutionalized following an attempted murder in the same room as her son.
In addition to being mentally disabled and mentally ill, Shumbera is profoundly deaf and blind in one eye, she said. He was also heavily medicated, leaving him lethargic and unable to defend himself, she said.
"And they're putting him in with [an attempted] murderer?" she said.
Crose first learned of the assault after a Bateman employee called her and said that her son was being transferred to Cabell Huntington Hospital, but did not say why. A few hours later, someone from Cabell Huntington called and asked for permission to perform a rape test on him, she said.
In November 2009, Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman ruled the state Department of Health and Human Resources had wrongly denied Shumbera entry into the Medicaid Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Waiver Program, a federally funded assisted living program designed to facilitate more independent living for people with mental disability.
The DHHR had repeatedly refused to let Shumbera, 31, into the program, saying that his disability was a product of his mental illness and not his mental disability. He has been in Bateman Hospital since 2001.
In 2007, his attorneys appealed his case to Kanawha Circuit Court, arguing that the DHHR was failing to follow its own policies in deciding whom to admit to the MR/DD program. Kaufman would not certify the case as a class action on behalf of others in similar situations, but he did rule that Shumbera qualified for the program
The judge also found that the DHHR's policy that determines eligibility is vague, particularly regarding patients diagnosed with both mental disability and mental illness.
DHHR has appealed Kaufman's ruling that Shumbera is eligible for the waiver program to the state Supreme Court. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for today.
"It's like a prison"
Shumbera's mother says care providers at Bateman sabotaged her son's efforts to take the necessary steps to prepare for placement in a community-based living arrangement.
"They did everything they could to set him off, so they could say he was too violent to get out of the hospital," she said.
Since Kaufman's ruling, she has noticed an increase in PRNs, the shorthand term for when a patient requires an immediate intervention by hospital staff.