A 26-year-old man with autism who has been living at the Ottawa Hospital for more than two years had to have almost all his teeth removed after they were left to decay and abscess.

Michael Neve also has a developmental disability and mental health issues, leaving him unable to care for himself.

However, for more than 26 months, there have been no group-home spaces available, so Neve's address has been the psychiatric ward of the Civic campus.

His sister, Jennifer Neve, said he's been on a waiting list for several months for more appropriate, community care.

She spoke to CBC News last spring about the financial and personal costs to housing him in an acute care hospital, and then again recently about Michael Neve's teeth.

'I didn't feel backed by the hospital.' - Jennifer Neve, sister of Michael Neve

Jennifer Neve thinks her brother would receive specialized, individual care — including attention to dental health — if he were living in a group home.

"There would have been staff there helping him and maybe prompts for brushing his teeth. It's a shame he had to lose all those teeth," said Neve.

Infections took time to diagnose

It took some time for doctors at the hospital to realize the infections in his mouth were so severe they were causing Michael Neve pain and fevers, she said.

Neve said that since her brother has trouble communicating, his doctor misread his discomfort as depression, and later, doctors thought the fever and discomfort were due to a bowel obstruction.

Jennifer and Michael Neve

Jennifer and Michael Neve. on an outing not long after he had his teeth removed during surgery at the Ottawa Hospital. (Neve Family)

"We finally figured out it's his teeth," said Neve.

"Many were abscessed and it was decided action needed to be taken, but it wasn't the hospital that helped me with that. I contacted the Ontario Disability Support Program emergency system."

26 teeth removed

Ironically, he was referred to the specialized dental clinic at the Civic campus where Neve lives.

Neve was put under a general anesthetic, and an oral surgeon removed 26 teeth. Neve will be fitted for dentures next month.

Jennifer Neve said it has led to more personal costs for her brother and financial costs to the medical system.

"As his sister, I'm happy to be helping him, but I didn't feel backed by the hospital."

Ottawa Hospital officials said the cost of an acute-care bed for Michael Neve runs $1,250 a day.

3 people with autism awaiting group-home spots

Debra Bournes Vice President of Clinical Programs at the Ottawa Hospital

Debra Bournes, vice-president of clinical programs at the Ottawa Hospital, says housing Michael Neve for the past 18 months has cost more than a million dollars. (CBC)

Debra Bournes, vice-president of clinical programs at the Ottawa Hospital, was not able to comment about Neve's case.

"But in general, the kind of basic care, is something that is — and should be — provided within the hospital," said Bournes.

"In this particular case — which we can't talk about — that's something we have looked in to. There's a lot of different circumstances around it," she said.

Bournes said Michael Neve is one of three people with autism currently living at the hospital while awaiting a permanent space in a group home and who have been waiting to be discharged for anywhere from 102 to 1,370 days.

"Space in specialized group homes is becoming harder and harder to find," said Bournes.

"Hospitals aren't the best places to have someone in their mid 20s because we aren't able to provide them activities or engage them."

The provincial Ministry of Community and Social Services would not comment on specific cases, but said its community service partners "are engaged and actively planning for anyone who is ready to be discharged."

"We are committed to helping these families and we recognize there is more work to do," said ministry spokeswoman Kristen Tedesco in an emailed statement.