Sunday, August 1

A judge investigates a residence in Barcelona and the Government for vetoing the re-entry of a young man with autism

“This is already deteriorating our physical and mental health.” Antonio and Josefina can’t take it anymore. They have been with their son Àlex, a young man with autism who has survived a liver transplant, at home for more than a year. After the first confinement, the Pere Mitjans foundation rejected the return of this young man to his home-residence in a three-way conflict between the family, the entity and the Generalitat that has become entrenched to the point of reaching the courts. A judge investigates the actions of the foundation and the Government and has summoned the deputy director of attention and promotion of personal autonomy of the Generalitat, Maria Vinardell, as a defendant for next July 22.

After agreeing with the foundation that the young man pass the first confinement at home, the family requested his re-entry into their center in June last year. Unsuccessfully. The foundation alleged that it did not have the adequate resources to guarantee that the young man, immunosuppressed and who has been diagnosed with a 75% disability, did not get coronavirus. By then the vaccination had not started.

After several months of negotiations, in January of this year the Ministry of Social Affairs ordered the young man’s re-entry into the residence, and set the date on February 17, when Àlex was already vaccinated with the full schedule. But the entity refused because, in his opinion, the sanitary conditions for re-entry were not met either. As explained by the other investigated in the case, the technical director of housing of the Pere Mitjans foundation, CC, the center could not be adequately sectorialized in case a user showed symptoms. The inspection of the Ministry of Social Affairs found that the day the young man had to return, the director of the center and the entity’s lawyer “did not allow him to re-enter.”

The magistrate investigating the case has found two opposing versions. The family considers, based on the resolutions of the Generalitat itself and the protocol for re-entry to the residences of February of this year, that it was no longer necessary to carry out a PCR on Àlex for his re-entry as he already had the complete vaccination schedule and had the center with 85% vaccination coverage. This was indicated to Antonio by email from the Generalitat, according to the documentation that this newspaper has been able to consult.

On the other hand, the residence alleges that the protocol, despite being approved in February 2021, was not officially published until March 4, so it was necessary for the young man to present a negative PCR and remain in isolation in the center for 15 days. to have a medical evaluation. He also assures that the family did not want to sign a private document to assume any consequence of the re-entry of Àlex in January 2021, an extreme that is not contemplated in the protocols or the resolutions of re-entry of the young man. What Antonio did sign was a document of self-responsibility before the administration.

Added to all this is the role of the Catalan administration, which has played “on two sides”, according to both Àlex’s father and the foundation’s legal representative. The regional administration passed within six months of issuing a resolution in which it assured that there was an agreement between the young man’s family and the Pere Mitjans foundation to renounce his position to order his re-entry into the same residence. The Ministry of Social Rights has declined to give its version of the events and has limited itself to indicating that it collaborates with the judicial investigation.

More than a year without the place to which you are entitled

During the de-escalation, when Àlex was still at home, the Pere Mitjans foundation provided a therapeutic walk with the young man three days a week, which according to the entity shows that they did not ignore the young man. Despite this help, the father and mother of the young man could not take care of their son and requested that he return to their home-residence on June 12, 2020. This request was rejected. There was a consensus among social services and the young man’s doctors that re-entry into the foundation was a danger to his health. An exceptional agreement was proposed for the administration to support the young man and his family without Àlex losing his acquired rights.

At the end of June, the foundation proposed the temporary suspension of the place agreement for both residence and occupational therapy services, and in exchange for establishing an individualized care program for young people by hours of home service. On the contrary, the family insisted that it was not enough and that the young man needed the care he received at the aforementioned center. Even then, the minor’s father suspected that the foundation would refuse to re-enter his son, so he wrote a letter to the Barcelona social services consortium warning of the situation.

On July 14, Antonio received the response from the consortium, which after a meeting with the foundation informed the family that Pere Mitjans “has no intention of expelling her son from the center or modifying the place” that Àlex had. But at the end of August the foundation informed the family that it was “temporarily” suspending the contracts that oblige them to care for the young man, claiming that it did not have the means to take over Àlex.

The version of the young man’s father is that the suspension of the contract was a “retaliation” for a lawsuit that he filed against the foundation years ago for the payment of the accompaniments to his son’s doctors, but Pere Mitjans denies it emphatically and reiterates that the center did not have the necessary facilities to properly sectorize itself in the event of an outbreak. Moreover, the foundation accuses the father of the young man of “continuous threats of denunciations” to those responsible and workers of the center who have made the situation untenable, something that Antonio denies.

Added to the controversy was a contradictory action by the Generalitat. At first, the Ministry of Social Rights accepted the suspension of the foundation’s contract with the young man’s family because it had been “by mutual agreement”, something that Àlex’s parents deny. But later, in a resolution signed by Vilardell -the deputy director general to whom the judge has imputed-, the conselleria recognized that she had been wrong and that the family “had not renounced the recognized services.”

Consequently, the Generalitat agreed to return Àlex to his home-residence, after the Barcelona Public Health Agency, in a report last December, highlighted that the residence could already carry out an “adequate sectorization” in case outbreak with the support of the Center for Social Emergencies.

Antonio, the young man’s father, demands a solution. On the one hand, he fears “reprisals of some kind” from the foundation if his son returns to his home-residence, but at the same time he reiterates that he will continue to fight for the Generalitat to provide the services to which Àlex is entitled. “We ask for what Àlex has recognized by law, neither more nor less”, ditch. The judicial process will take several months, if not years, to finalize the case. While the only thing that is clear is that to this day Àlex is still with his parents for more than a year after requesting his re-entry into their home-residence.

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