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Part 4: Desperate for help, far from home

More than $12 million dollars.

That’s what the state of Washington spent to send 16 patients with serious brain injuries to a rehabilitation facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Once they got there, there was no plan to bring them home.

As a result, some of the patients stayed for years.

In part four of our series, KUOW's Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins explains how those patients fell through the cracks of two state bureaucracies.

About the series:

Beginning in 2014, Washington's Health Care Authority began sending patients with severe Traumatic Brain Injury to a private TBI treatment hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, called Brookhaven. Once there, the patients were all but forgotten.

No one from the state of Washington actively managed or supervised their care or planned for their return to Washington, until last spring. That's when a case manager at the Department of Social and Health Services was contacted about these patients.

Ever since she's been working to bring them home and find them placements in the community. As she's done this work, the case manager has discovered the patients had no access to primary care, but in a particularly ghoulish detail she's learned that at least four of the patients had their teeth extracted while they were at Brookhaven.