MAPLE SHADE – Jaime Trabbold is under a deadline.
In 2018, her 9-year-old son, Ronnie, spent six days in a South Jersey emergency department raging and in the midst of a suicidal crisis. Diagnosed with autism and bipolar disorder, Ronnie was sedated with medications every six hours while waiting for an appropriate treatment facility.
No hospital in the state could provide proper care for Ronnie, the family was told. So they waited in a plain white cubicle with a bed, a bathroom and little else, until a treatment bed opened at an in-patient facility in Pennsylvania.
“We were in a true state of emergency,” Trabbold recalled, “and nobody could help us.”
Traumatized by the experience, Trabbold is now pushing legislators for a new state law to help patients like her son.
The 36-year-old mother and home daycare operator wants hospitals to create waiting rooms and treatment spaces designed to accommodate patients with autism and other disabilities experiencing a mental health crisis. She also wants mandatory training for staff, so they know how to handle patients with special needs.