Elderly N. Texas man in custody of state may get to go home - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Elderly N. Texas man in custody of state may get to go home

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An elderly North Texas man may be able to go home soon after a hearing took place on Thursday to decide whether or not he should remain in the custody of the state.

For more than a week, FOX 4 has been covering the case of 85-year-old Charlie Fink.

Fink is the man who made a call to FOX 4 asking for help after he went to a local hospital for hernia surgery, then was placed in the psych ward and told the state was taking custody of him.

Fink has been in state care since last week. He went to Richardson Methodist almost two weeks ago to have hernia surgery.

A doctor there (an internist -- not a psychiatrist or psychologist) contacted Adult Protective Services because Fink wanted to go home and not to rehab.

Fink was then placed in the psychiatric unit of the hospital.  

Adult Protective Services got a temporary protection order and put Fink in an Arlington nursing home with his wife, who was removed from the home Feb. 5 over concerns regarding Fink's ability to care for her.

The state wants to keep custody of Fink and seek guardianship.

"We are worried about all of the clutter and the hoarding issues in his home," said Shari Pulliam with Adult Protective Services. "We are worried about his physical rehabilitation from the surgery he has just had, we are worried about him being able to take his medication properly and we are worried about his living there alone and not being able to access home health services."  

Adult Protective Services supervisor Courtney Shaw testified that Fink had threatened her and others at Richardson Methodist Hospital, saying that he had made threats to kill himself and his wife, Edith, as well.

Fink's attorney, Lysette Rios, countered that those threats were only made against people as his wife was being taken from the home and he was being told he could not return home.

Since FOX 4's stories on Fink last week, many have been watching the case, including Russell Fish with the Open Records Project.

That group looks at cases where the state seeks to remove elderly from their homes.

"I'm not aware of any statute that refers to the amount of clutter that you can have in your house," said Russell Fish with the Open Records Project.

State testimony did not produce any doctor that said Fink lacked the mental capacity to take care of himself, and the state has not done a psychological evaluation of fink since he had been in its custody.

That bothered attorney Geoff Henley, who was observing the hearing

"I was astounded that you could be placed in custody against your will with only the word of a single internist," he said. "One physician. The statute is very clear about this -- you got to have a physician and another physician and at least one of them has to be a psychiatrist."

Fink's neighbor, Kenny McIntosh, was at the hearing Thursday. He testified he and his family have already started cleaning Fink's home, and that he would look after Fink if he returned home.

After a nearly five-hour hearing, the judge ruled that if Fink passes a psychological evaluation Friday, he can return to his home.

Fink's attorney said the ruling was fair.

Fink believes he'll pass with flying colors.

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