Family billed $4,233 after daughter sent to hospital by school counselor

National News

PARK COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado family is planning to fight a medical bill they say was never authorized.

Ashley Gray, 16, of Park County, said she was sent to the hospital in January for a mental health evaluation after talking to the counselor at Platte Canyon High School.

“I was just having a bad day and I needed someone to talk to in the heat of the moment, so I went to our counselor,” Gray said.

An hour later, Gray was in the back seat of a squad car headed to the Children’s Hospital South Campus in Highlands Ranch — more than 45 minutes away.

Her father, Maverick Gray, said they weren’t notified until Ashley was nearly at the hospital. This week, they received the bill for that visit: $4,233.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Maverick. “They took it upon themselves to send my daughter to the hospital without my acknowledgement or permission, and then I get a $4,000 bill.”

District Superintendent Mike Schmidt declined to comment on the bill Thursday, instead referring us to a previous statement released by the district:

As in most public schools, our mental health team uses a risk assessment process that is relatively common. Included in that process is the use of a risk assessment screening tool, by the team, to try to determine the level of risk. We will only request transport to a mental health facility if our team determines that there exists an imminent risk of self-harm or harm to others based on the best information we have. ‘Imminent risk’ typically involves an unusual amount of specificity. Parents are always contacted at some point during the process and are instrumental in supporting the student moving forward.”

Ashley said she spoke with a nurse and with a counselor over Skype before being released a few hours later. Children’s Hospital declined to release a breakdown on how that equates to a $4,233 bill.

“They don’t give breakdowns,” said Maverick. “It’s just an emergency room visit, and that’s the price.”

Children’s Hospital released the following to KDVR regarding the cost of the visit:

  • At Children’s Hospital Colorado, we take youth mental health very seriously.
  • Suicide is the number one cause of death for youth ages 10 – 24 in Colorado.
  • When patients present to the emergency department with verbal or behavioral indications that they’re a danger to themselves or others, we by law, must provide a comprehensive, safety-focused mental health assessment.
  • These assessments, which are provided by mental health providers with special training in emergency pediatric psychiatry, are important to determine if the youth is in acute danger.
  • The hospital’s Financial Counseling department works closely with families to offer assistance in paying bills.

Maverick is hoping to pursue legal action against the district and says he has no plans to pay the bill.

“Platte Canyon School District needs to pay this bill,” he said. “That’s obvious.”

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