I have a friend who was admitted to Maine Medical Center because of a broken jaw caused by falling when he was drunk. He fully admits he is an alcoholic. Three days after surgery, which included wiring his mouth shut, he was told that they would discharge him despite his continuing pain because he no longer had an acute illness requiring hospitalization.

The discharge planner went on to say they would transfer him that same day to the Oxford Street homeless shelter since he had previously been evicted from his living quarters. When asked about referral for treatment of his alcoholism, he was told he would have to secure that on his own. They did not offer any help whatsoever in locating an appropriate placement.

Substance use disorder is a recognized medical diagnosis that needs treatment. Why did Maine Medical Center decline to help an alcoholic locate an appropriate service provider? If he had an opioid-related substance use disorder, or some other commonly accepted medical condition, I expect they would have made calls to find the right placement. Apparently they do not believe that alcoholism is worthy of similar treatment. That is discrimination.

The role of discharge planner is a misnomer if all the staff person does is essentially say, “You need to leave, and you must find a medical referral on your own.”

Cushman D. Anthony


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