A nurse told the mother of Haleigh Poutre during a hospital visit on Tuesday that the severely beaten Westfield girl, whom officials once wanted to let die, has been able to eat scrambled eggs and cream of wheat, and has tapped out drum rhythms during physical therapy, according to the mother’s lawyer.
But it is unclear when Poutre began eating solid food, and how often she does so. A Department of Social Services worker, who was monitoring the 15-minute visit, has told the nurse to stop talking to the mother about the girl’s condition, said Wendy Murphy, a Boston lawyer who represents Allison Avrett, who is Poutre’s biological mother.
”Silence and secrecy has been the most frustrating component of this case,” Murphy said yesterday. ”It just seems inhumane that information about this child can be forbidden on the theory that it’s somehow protecting her privacy, when you consider that this child almost died under the state’s care.”
The Department of Social Services gave Poutre’s mother and grandmother permission to visit the hospital every two weeks starting last fall, after they signed a confidentiality agreement that bars them from asking about the girl’s condition and making public statements on the subject.
Murphy said she plans to file a motion on Tuesday asking the Hampden Juvenile Court to allow Avrett to participate in the judicial proceedings about the girl’s future, including getting access to the girl’s medical information and having a voice in future decisions, and to lengthen and expand her visits.
DSS and hospital officials said they are not allowed to release public updates on the girl’s progress.
Poutre, who remains on a feeding tube, has been receiving physical, speech, and occupational therapy since Jan. 26 at the Franciscan Hospital for Children in Brighton, where she turned 12 on Feb. 24. State officials had sought to remove the girl’s life support about a week after she was admitted to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield after allegedly being beaten by her adoptive mother and stepfather.
Murphy and Susan Molina, who is the executive director of The Yellow Ribbon Kids Club, a nonprofit group based in Whitman that advocates for foster children, said the girl has been able to use her hands to signal her wishes.
Earlier in February, Poutre held up two fingers to signal that she wanted to see her younger sister, her grandmother’s second grandchild.
Poutre cannot talk, but she rubs the faces of her mother and grandmother and plays with their hair when they visit. The girl clings to their hands when the 15 minutes are up, and they have to pry her fingers off to leave, Molina said.
A piece of paper with the girl’s name scrawled in pink and other markings hung near her hospital bed. Murphy said Avrett wants to know the significance of the work, and whether the girl can hold a pen, draw, or spell.
Keep her in your prayers.
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Categories: Haleigh Poutre