LOUISVILLE, Colo. (KDVR) — When Jonathan Delgado-Concepcion checked himself into Centennial Peaks Hospital on Oct. 18, he thought he might be there for a few days — a week at the most.
Instead, the 28-year-old found himself trapped at the behavioral health hospital in Louisville, unable to leave even after he said he felt his mental health was better.
“Suddenly, everything started to turn to a nightmare when they started to basically hold me against my will,” Delgado-Concepcion said in a phone call from the hospital on Monday, Nov. 13.
‘Please do not give me any more drugs’
Delgado-Concepcion admitted checking himself into the psychiatric hospital following a DUI arrest that he said led to a nervous breakdown. What he said he did not expect was to be given a combination of psychiatric drugs three times a day, long after he felt he was doing better and asked to be released.
“I started asking them, ‘Please, do not give me any more drugs,’ because I was already feeling good,” Delgado-Concepcion said.
The native of Puerto Rico said he was denied a Spanish translator but remembers being promised he would soon be released.
“They just kept along and saying tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, but they didn’t care about the sacrifice that my cousin was making. They didn’t care about me. I already told them that I was feeling good. They’re holding me against my will with a lie, saying that I was saying suicidal stuff and killing and murder stuff. But the thing is, it’s my word against them,” Delgado-Concepcion said.
The cousin he referenced is Joanne Concepcion, who contacted the Problem Solvers last week after she said the hospital was refusing to pass messages to her cousin, who has no other family members in the continental United States.
“I know that they’ve been what we call in the medical field ‘blocking.’ They’ve been blocking our efforts to contact and communicate with him and find out how he’s being treated in there,” Concepcion said.
The 51-year-old is a psychiatric and substance abuse nurse for a behavioral health unit in Texas and said she began to suspect her cousin was being held against his will for unethical reasons.
“I suspect that they’re extending his stay here so that they can keep on using his insurance until it expires at the end of the month,” she said.
Concepcion said the hospital finally told her last week her cousin would be discharged on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 12. But after driving from Fort Worth, Texas, she said hospital staff refused to release him.
“Sure enough, they said, ‘Oh, well he claimed that he was going to hurt himself.’ And I said, ‘Well, who heard him say that? What nurse documented that? What was his plan?’ They were not able to provide me any proof, any documentation, and I do have rights to know these things because he added me as a release of information,” she said.
When Concepcion asked to speak to her cousin’s doctor, the hospital instead called the police and accused of her trespassing. Louisville Police did show up but did not cite Joanne for trespassing.
“They (Centennial Peaks Hospital) said I was being disruptive, and I said, ‘I haven’t even raised my voice. I’ve done nothing but sit here and talk on my phone,'” she said.
Legally, hospitals can keep a patient against their will if they have reason to believe the patient is a threat to themselves or others.
When FOX31 asked Delgado-Concepcion by phone on Monday, Nov. 13, if he had ever expressed thoughts of suicide and a plan to carry out self-harm, he replied, “No sir. I want to leave. … It’s been two weeks, three weeks, too much time.”
The Problem Solvers informed Delgado-Concepcion he had actually been hospitalized for nearly four weeks at that point, leading him to say, “Then I lost track of time.”
When asked if he thought he was being held so the hospital could collect Medicaid payments on his behalf, he responded: “Possibly. It is one possibility.”
Centennial Peaks Hospital responds
Centennial Peaks Hospital denied it would ever engage in Medicaid fraud, telling the Problem Solvers in an email:
Due to patient privacy laws, we are unable to comment on specific patients or their care. Notwithstanding, all decisions regarding patient admission or discharge are ultimately made by the attending psychiatrists who are not employed by Centennial Peaks Hospital.
Centennial Peaks Hospital denies any accusations that the facility would hold any patient solely for financial considerations. Admission and discharge decisions of psychiatric patients can be very complex matters not easily understood by patients or family members.
Centennial Peaks Hospital is committed to delivering compassionate care, being responsive to the needs of our patients and their families. Our team utilizes evidence-based therapies and treatments to best support those in our care. Our facility is a highly regarded, trusted provider of behavioral health services in our community.Centennial Peaks Hospital
“Lately, I haven’t been fighting anymore because it’s been so long, and I feel so powerless,” Delgado-Concepcion said.
Less than 15 hours later, following a phone call and email from the Problem Solvers to Centennial Peaks Hospital, Deglado-Concepcion was released into the custody of his cousin, Joanne Concepcion, at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
A cell phone video taken by Joanne Concepcion captures her cousin walking out with his hands in the air, shouting: “I’m free! God is real! God is real!”
Can hospitals keep patients on a mental health hold?
The Colorado Department of Human Services told the Problem Solvers that if a hospital wants to keep a patient on a mental health hold beyond 72 hours, it has “to file a petition to the court to put the patient on a short-term certification and the patient must demonstrate imminent risk to self or others, or a rave disability.”
In addition, “a facility cannot require medications for a patient unless there is a court order for those medications,” according to CDHS.
Joanne Concepcion said a social worker at Centennial Peaks told her by phone that the hospital did in fact go to court to extend her cousin’s stay.
Mental health resources and how to file complaints
Below are resources for people looking for mental health resources.
- OwnPath is a searchable online directory from BHA that allows people in Colorado to find licensed behavioral health providers, search for specific services, or use a guided search to identify providers or resources that best meet their needs. Searches can be narrowed by criteria such as location, days of operation, language support, payment types accepted, and more. To learn more about OwnPath and to access the directory, visit OwnPath.co. You can also access the directory in Spanish at MiPropiaSenda.co.
- 988 is Colorado’s mental health and substance use helpline that offers free, confidential support 24/7 through call, text or a chat feature at 988lifeline.org. People can connect with a trained 988 care specialist to get support when they are experiencing emotional distress or struggling with mental, behavioral health, or substance use challenges. To learn more about 988, visit bha.colorado.gov/behavioral-health/988.
Conception told the Problem Solvers she has filed a complaint with the Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that certified hospitals and healthcare organizations nationwide.
A spokesman for the Colorado Department of Health and Environment told FOX31 that if a patient or a family member has concerns about treatment protocols they can file a complaint with the state health department.
The patient’s family can also file a complaint with the Behavioral Health Administration.