COVINGTON, LA (WVUE) - A North Shore mother says her disabled son is being made to feel like trash. She says she can't get a local nursing home to take him in, and he's about to be sent three-and-a-half hours from the home that gives him the full care he needs.
He's a 22-year-old man with a body that never fully developed and the mind of a 3 year old.
"He's lived his entire life unable to sit up, rollover. He's been disabled the entire 22 years," said Josh White's mother, Donna.
Josh, born premature, contracted RSV virus when he was 4 months old, which led to a damaged brain.
"He watches 'Blues Clues.' We just hold his hand and kiss him," said his mother.
White requires near-constant care. Donna gave up her job after he was born, and last month, he suffered a major setback.
"About three weeks ago his care worker was changing his diaper, and as they rolled him, his hip and femur bone broke," said Donna White.
White said her son gets good care at St. Tammany hospital, but now he must be moved to a nursing facility and his family has been rejected at every turn.
"There's 11 in St. Tammany alone. They aren't saying they don't have a place, they are saying they can't meet his needs," said Donna White.
That means a facility in Pineville may be the only place for the Whites to turn.
"I think it's discrimination against the disabled. You're not supposed to separate him from the community," said his mother.
To say that Josh's condition, and the costs associated with it, have changed his mother's life wouldn't be the half of it.
"He means everything to me. This is my baby. I've given up 22 years to be by his side, I lost my home, no medical insurance, I've done everything to keep him with me," Donna said.
White said that attention has helped him succeed in areas that might seem small to some. He has developed a childlike understanding of the world around him, which can also be a curse.
"He must feel like trash that has to be put out with me crying, 'why won't you take my son?'" Donna said.
She now worries that she may only be able to see him on weekends, and at this point has no idea how she will pay for travel and lodging to visit Josh.
"I don't want to accept this and say he's got to go away. He's wanted by his family, and I'm going to fight to keep him here," she said.
But time is running short. Due to funding issues, Josh may be moved out of St. Tammany Hospital as early as this week. The hospital declined our request for an interview, but Josh's mom said she has received assurances that Josh will be allowed to stay until a suitable nursing facility is located.
In the meantime, Donna White has set up a Gofundme site to help her pay for equipment that could help the family take care of Josh at home. The family has also set up a Facebook page called 'Bring Joshua home'.
If Josh is sent to Pineville, he will stay at a state facility called Pinecrest. Its stated mission is to support people with disabilities, to reach treatment goals and help them return to community living.