Patient Goes Missing after Harlingen Mental Health Clinic Mix-Up

4 years 4 months 2 days ago Friday, April 06 2018 Apr 6, 2018 April 06, 2018 11:06 PM April 06, 2018 in News

HARLINGEN – A Rio Grande Valley man said staffers at a local mental health care clinic dropped his brother off at a homeless shelter.

The man also said it resulted in his brother wandering around in the streets of Harlingen for hours.

Tropical Texas Behavioral Health told CHANNEL 5 NEWS despite the man having all his IDs, a mix-up over his name led them to drop him off at a homeless shelter.

Lazaro Ortega told us he's been looking out for his now 62-year-old brother, Arturo, since they were young. He says he suffers from schizophrenia.

"You wonder why those people in the community grow homeless because they get dropped off somewhere in the system. Of situations like this," Ortega said. "You have to decipher what is fact and what is fiction of what they are telling you."

He says his brother hasn't taken his medication in over a year. To change that, he scheduled an appointment for his brother at Tropical Texas Behavioral Health.

Ortega says he got a phone call the day of the appointment.

"I got a call in the afternoon from the daycare center. ‘Is Arturo, your brother there?’ I said, ‘No, he was with you folks,’” he explains. “’No, we dropped him there in the morning, they were supposed to call us to go pick him up and they never did.’"

Ortega says he called Texas Tropical in a panic.

"They said they didn't know who he was. They thought he was a homeless person and they had dropped him off at Fish and Loaves because they didn't know who he was," he says.

Ortega wonders why.

"When they saw his ID, immediately they could have seen that they had him in the system already. I gave them all the paperwork there," he says.

Ortega tells us five hours later, his brother was found wondering the streets of Harlingen.

We reached out to Tropical Texas Behavioral Health’s CEO, Terry Crocker. He was unavailable for an on-camera interview, but sent us the following statement, which reads in part:

"At 8:45 a.m. that Thursday, he was dropped off in our parking lot and left alone by his adult day services provider. He reported his name was "Arturo Solis" and that he did not have any correct identification with him. He reported he was homeless...

Tropical management will be following-up with staff regarding the handling of patients that present with contradictory identifying information. 

Additionally, it is strongly recommended that any family, friends or significant others involved in the transportation or care of any of our patients who have issues with dementia or confusion – accompany the patient to our receptionist staff for check-in, especially if that person will be leaving the patient at the clinic alone."

Ortega said Tropical Texas Behavioral Health rescheduled his brother’s appointment for next week.

He says he’s looking forward to getting his brother the help he needs.

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