A Hospital Is Suing An Eighteen-year-old Quadraplegic Patient

(NewsReady.com) – Alexis Ratcliff, 18, is currently in the extended foster care system for people who are 18 to 21 years old. She’s not like other young adults, though. She is a quadriplegic who has lived in a North Carolina hospital since she was 13. Now, that hospital is suing her.

In February 2008, when Ratcliff was 18 months old, her parents put her in the car with them and took off. Her mom was behind the wheel, high on drugs. Her father was holding her in his lap. Sadly, they were in a car crash, and the impact crushed Ratcliff’s little neck.

Doctors at Atrium Health Wake Forest Hospital in Winston-Salem saved the child’s life. But the accident destroyed her spine. Ratcliff has spent her life on a ventilator and in a wheelchair. She was sent to live with family, and the state provided nursing care for her. In January 2019, when she was 13, she was sent to live at Wake Forest Hospital.

Ratcliff has lived at the hospital since then, with the exception of six months. Medicaid pays for her hospital stay, but the hospital now wants her to leave. They ordered her to move to a nursing home, but it was in Virginia, and Ratcliff refused. In response, the hospital sued her for trespassing.

The teenager wants the state to provide her with a house or apartment with nurses and aides, so she can live near her family and friends. She also has a full scholarship at a nearby college. Ratcliff told NPR that she is quadriplegic, but she’s “still a normal human being, just like everyone else” and deserves to live her “life to the fullest of [her] abilities.”

Dr. Kevin High, one of the hospital’s executives, said that the hospital isn’t a place to live long-term. The lawsuit argues that Ratcliff’s health has been stable, and she doesn’t require the high level of care she is receiving. What’s more, High points out that Wake Forest always has “people waiting for beds.”

Ratcliff told NPR that she still needs the care she’s receiving until she can get set up in her own place. Further, the teen and her lawyer have accused the hospital of retaliating against her when she refused to leave. They say the hospital took away the respiration equipment she used when she left the hospital and wouldn’t allow her to speak to the nurse who used to take her out. The hospital also allegedly said she wouldn’t be let back in the building if she left again, so she’s been stuck inside since August 2023.

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