Archive for the ‘brain injury’ Category

Terri Schiavo’s Brother, Bobby Schindler, Working to Help Others

April 5, 2013

By now, eight years later, the details and debate over his sister’s situation – her diagnosis, her prognosis, her wishes, her autopsy – are no longer that important to Bobby Schindler.
For him, one thought dominates. Terri Schiavo deserved to live.

Schindler now heads a growing foundation to help others in similar situations. Every year since her death, they’ve held a “Terri’s Day” of remembrance.

This year, the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network has moved from Florida to the Philadelphia area, where both the Schindler and Schiavo families are from, and the event has grown.

At 5 p.m. Friday, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput will celebrate a Mass dedicated to Terri Schiavo at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. Sarah Palin will speak afterward at a fund-raising dinner at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. A ticket is $150, and 350 have been sold; $25,000 gets you a visit with Palin, but no takers so far, Schindler said.

Terri Schiavo died March 31, 2005, after 15 years in what doctors termed a persistent vegetative state. Her case was marked by an excruciating public family battle that traversed the courts, prompted an unprecedented session of Congress, drew the attention of the Vatican, and inspired countless Americans to complete “living wills” spelling out what care they did – or did not – want in the event of severe injury or illness.

Her husband, Michael, said she would not have wanted to live this way. Her parents and siblings said she would have chosen life, no matter what.

It is a decision that daily is facing many families, although rarely in such a public arena. Mostly, it’s in a hospital conference room with a box of tissues on the table.

Schindler, 48, a former math and science teacher in Florida, thinks many patients are being warehoused. Last year, the foundation established a Center for Disability in the Public Square – a data-gathering and information-sharing network. In his office, he has a sketch of a rehab facility he would like the foundation to build, although he concedes it is likely a long way off.

The foundation, begun in 2000, has seen its revenue grow steadily, from less than $20,000 in 2005 to nearly $700,000 in 2011.

That year, contributions were bolstered by a $100,000 prize from the Gerard Health Foundation, a pro-life philanthropy in Natick, Mass., that praised the Schiavo network for helping 1,000 families, and giving them “safe haven amidst the pressure of the so-called ‘right to die’ movement.”


One of them is Sara Harvey, of Horseheads, N.Y., just north of the Pennsylvania line. She has been battling officials over her husband, Gary, who has been in a persistent vegetative state for nearly seven years, after falling down steps and suffering a traumatic brain injury.

A judge had named the county Gary Harvey’s guardian in 2007, and in 2009, officials planned to remove his feeding tube. Sara Harvey contacted Schindler, who has petitioned the court to name him a legal guardian.

No decision has been made, but Sara Harvey credits Schindler with saving her husband’s life so far.  “Bobby’s like an angel over my husband.”

Full Article and Source:
Terri Schiavo’s Brother Working to Help Others

Brain-Injured in Nursing Homes Without the Care Giffords Had

January 13, 2013

Larry Boswell sat slumped in a wheelchair. His sweatpants were soiled, his T-shirt soaked in saliva. Flies buzzed around his head.
He was able to walk when he arrived at Illinois’Cobden Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in 2008, government records show, something he can’t manage now. Speech therapy for the 57- year-old ended shortly after he was admitted, according to a lawyer trying to persuade Medicaid to transfer him.

While much of what Boswell says is incomprehensible, he managed a clear “no” when asked if he wanted to stay where he was. Cobden officials didn’t respond to telephone calls.

Boswell is one of nearly 244,000 brain-injured people consigned to nursing homes, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from U.S. Medicare and Medicaid statistics. He’s also on the front line in a national battle to get people like him out of facilities that aren’t equipped to care for them.

“People used to be put away in state hospitals and state developmental centers,” said Steven Schwartz,  a lawyer who filed a class-action lawsuit to force Massachusetts to provide alternatives to nursing homes for the brain-injured, and won a settlement that’s still being implemented. “Now people with brain injuries are warehoused and put away in nursing homes.”

Over 4 million brain-injured Americans — including victims of car accidents, assaults, strokes and falls — suffer from long-term disabilities that require specialized therapies. They are sometimes neglected in institutions designed for geriatric care, not for the treatment they need. In some cases, they’re in facilities with low scores from a U.S. agency that grades nursing homes on quality, cleanliness and other measures.

Full Article and Source:
Brain-Injured in Nursing Homes Without the Care Giffords Had

FINR Brain Injury Center Seeks Bankruptcy as Bank Sees Default

January 13, 2013

Florida regulators are demanding that a brain-injury treatment center with patients from across the U.S. prove that it’s financially viable, as the facility seeks bankruptcy protection.

The Chapter 11 filing by the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation Inc. followed Bloomberg News stories about the alleged abuse and neglect of patients by their caregivers at the 200-bed residential facility southeast of Tampa. It’s one of the largest in the country treating people with long-term disabilities brought on by brain trauma.
The filing came hours after Regions Bank sued the institute, known as FINR, in U.S. District Court in Tampa, claiming it’s in default on $31 million in real-estate loans. The lawsuit by the Birmingham, Alabama-based unit of Regions Financial Corp. (RF) says FINR stopped paying on the debt in August.

FINR’s owner, Joseph Brennick, said in a statement yesterday that he was “confident” the facility could properly care for the people living there while it undertakes a financial restructuring. Media coverage led to “a significant decline in revenue making FINR unable to meet is financial obligations,”Brennick said in the statement.

Negotiations with Regions Bank are “ongoing and we are making strides to resolve this successfully as we look for a long-term solution,” he said.

After the bank sent FINR a default letter in September, Brennick withdrew at least $466,000 from center coffers, the suit alleges. In addition, FINR has failed to give the government the payroll taxes withheld from employees’ wages and hasn’t paid real estate taxes and routine operating expenses, Regions Bank says in the suit.

Full Article and Source:
Brain Injury Center Seeks Bankruptcy as Bank Sees Default

See Also:
Caregivers Bloodied Patients as Complaints Drew Laughter

Terri Schiavo’s Brother, Bobby Schindler, Petitions Court to Intervene in Guardianship Case

December 27, 2012

Attorney Christopher Johnson has filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, asking the court to allow Mr. Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo to serve as Guardian for Mr. Gary Harvey.

In 2006, Mr. Harvey, a Chemung County resident, was involved in a home accident, which left him with a profound brain injury. His spouse, Mrs. Sara Harvey, sought guardianship only to be denied by the Chemung County Supreme Court who ultimately appointed the Chemung County Department of Social Services as Mr. Harvey’s guardian. Since that time, Mrs. Harvey has been in a prolonged court battle with Chemung County officials and the New York State Court System.

Indeed, it was in May of 2009 when the ethics committee from the hospital where Mr. Harvey was residing recommended the removal of his nutrition and hydration tube, and also issued a “do-not-resuscitate order” (DNR).

Fortunately, the court denied that request. However, inexplicably, the DNR stayed in place and Mr. Harvey remains under the control of Chemung County, despite the fact that the county tried to end his life.

“I have raised the question many times, ‘How can Chemung County, Guardian of Mr. Harvey, be acting in his best interest when they, in fact, tried to kill him?’ From all indications, it appears that Mr. Harvey has been warehoused and denied the opportunity to receive the care and rehabilitative services that would benefit his condition,” stated Bobby Schindler.

It is the hope that with this filing, the court will recognize that Mr. Harvey deserves the chance to receive aggressive therapy and rehabilitation. Certainly from Mr. Schindler’s experience with brain injured persons, he would afford Mr. Harvey the help he needs in the hopes to significantly improve his quality of life.

Schiavo’s Brother Petitions Court to Intervene in Guardianship Case

Medford Student Beats Odds With Brain Injury

December 22, 2012

With just a year left of college, Tessa Venell was looking forward to her senior year. But a car accident in July 2006 left the then 21-year-old Medford resident in a coma with broken bones and a traumatic brain injury.

Doctors told the family their daughter had a 10-percent chance of making a functional recovery, meaning there was a 90 percent chance she might never be able to take care of herself again.”We didn’t have a good prognosis,” said Tessa’s mother, Julie Venell. “I think you kind of protect yourself from believing that.” We’d hoped she’d be in the other percentage. You don’t even let that sink in.”

Despite the dismal forecast, Tessa overcame the odds. One year after her accident, she returned to finish her degree at Brandeis University. She went on to film an environmental documentary in China and is now writing a book about her recovery and rehabilitation.

“She’s had remarkable accomplishments for people who didn’t have a brain injury,” said Dr. Douglas Katz, medical director of the Acquired Brain Injury Pogram at Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital. “The fact she was able to return, complete college a year after and complete a documentary movie is just remarkable in and of itself.”

Tessa, who has lived in South Medford for the last three years, now works as a grant writer for the Ivy Street School in Brookline, which treats and educates a growing number of young people with brain injuries and other neurological difficulties.

Full Article and Source:
Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation – Medford Student Beats Odds With Brain Injury

FINR: Caregivers Bloodied Patients as Complaints Drew Laughter

December 18, 2012

Caregivers at a Florida center for the brain-injured beat patients, goaded them to fight each other and fondle female employees and in one instance laughed at complaints of mistreatment, according to investigative reports released under a court order to Bloomberg News.

The center, the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation, is fighting a state directive that it move about 50 patients to other facilities. That order followed a Bloomberg story revealing a history of violence at the center southeast of Tampa. At least five patients have died from alleged abuse or neglect there since 1998, two in the last two years.
The newly released records summarize 15 probes conducted by the Florida Department of Children and Families since 2008, including 12 that have never been disclosed before. Leon County Circuit Court Judge Kevin J. Carroll ordered the state to provide the reports, with the names of victims blacked out, after Bloomberg petitioned the court, arguing there was a compelling public interest.

The Wauchula-based facility, known as FINR, draws patients from across the U.S. and abroad and is said by competitors to be the largest such rehabilitation center in the country. It often finds customers among the relatively few brain injured with legal settlements or insurance payments that enable them to pay premium prices. FINR charges some of them $300,000 a year.

In all of the 15 cases summarized in the reports –involving 17 patients and 20 staff members — the allegations were classified by investigators as verified, meaning they were supported by a “preponderance of credible evidence.”

‘Difficult Population’

Until now, the state had released only a summary of complaints, indicating there have been 526 allegations of abuse and neglect since 2005. Of those, 37 were deemed verified. Another 117 fell into a category defined by state regulations as when “there is credible evidence that does not meet the standard of preponderance.” The rest are still being investigated or involved cases where the agency discovered no evidence of abuse.

Joe Brennick, FINR’s owner and chief executive officer, declined to comment on individual cases. In an e-mailed statement, Brennick said the center “has consistently acted in the best interest of its patients, and has one of the toughest self-reporting policies in place for a facility of its kind.”

“It is important to understand that FINR serves one of the most difficult populations of patients in the country,” he said, “and that these patients often act out aggressively and are extremely difficult to manage. This is not to absolve wrongdoing by staff members, but is a fact that is often overlooked in media reports.”

Full Article and Source:
Caregivers Bloodied Patients as Complaints Drew Laughter

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Florida Brain Injury Center Fights Order to Move Patients

Florida Brain Injury Center Fights Order to Move Patients

September 13, 2012

A Florida brain-injury facility accused of abusive and substandard practices is fighting a state order to move out scores of patients, saying regulators are overstepping their authority.

The Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation, located 50 miles southeast of Tampa in rural Wauchula, told the state Friday that it would not begin the process of discharging any patients until a judge hears an appeal it filed on Aug. 28.

That action, before the Division of Administrative Hearings, alleges state regulators exceeded their authority in ordering the removal of patients and acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” way.

The dispute stems from a surprise inspection last month by three state agencies. Regulators moved in after Bloomberg News reported on dozens of cases of alleged abuse and neglect at the for-profit facility, known as FINR. Patients’ families or state agencies have accused the center’s staffers of abuse or care lapses in at least five residents’ deaths since 1998, two of them in the last two years.

State investigators determined FINR was breaching its license by treating 50 patients who weren’t brain or spinal cord injured. That represented more than half of the 98 patients whose records the state reviewed.

The state ordered FINR to submit a plan to relocate those patients to facilities “appropriate to meet their needs.”

In its response Friday, FINR said it would begin that process only if its legal challenge is unsuccessful.

The state is exceeding its authority by trying to enforce a narrow definition of brain injury limited only to patients who suffered a traumatic event, such as a car accident, FINR said. Such an interpretation unfairly denies treatment to people with other kinds of brain injuries, the company’s filing said, without specifying the injuries in question.

FINR said it was acting to address other concerns raised by regulators, including an allegation it was keeping patients too long. The company said its chief medical officer will review the length of stay for all residents to ensure appropriateness. It said such a review of current patients found they all required the treatment they were receiving or were making progress in their rehabilitation.

After initially balking at providing investigators its internal reports on incidents involving patients from the past year, FINR said Friday that it had recently made those records available.

Full Article and Source:
Florida Brain Injury Center Fights Order to Move Patients

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Allstate Sues Florida Brain Injury Center, Claiming Fraud

Allstate Sues Florida Brain-Injury Center, Claiming Fraud

August 30, 2012

Allstate Corp. (ALL), the second-largest U.S. auto insurer, is seeking fraud damages in a lawsuit alleging that a Florida brain-injury facility warehoused patients who were beaten and abused by staff.

The suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Tampa, seeks $7.6 million that the insurer says it paid the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation to treat its claimants, as well as triple damages under federal racketeering laws and other costs.

Allstate alleges patients from Michigan, which mandates unlimited lifetime medical benefits for automobile injury coverage, were recruited to the Florida facility through an aggressive marketing campaign that promised an array of services that were never provided.

Some patients washed the cars of the center’s employees, an activity that was considered vocational training, according to the lawsuit.

Wayne J. Miller, an attorney representing the facility, known as FINR, said the company would not comment on matters in litigation.

The lawsuit, which also named FINR owner Joseph Brennick as a defendant, follows a Bloomberg News report last month on dozens of cases of alleged abuse at the facility. Patients’ families or state agencies have accused FINR of abuse or care lapses in at least five residents’ deaths since 1998, two of them in the last two years. Three former employees face criminal charges of abusing FINR patients — one of whom was allegedly hit repeatedly for two hours in a TV room last September.

Removals Ordered

Last week, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration said FINR was treating people without brain injuries — in breach of its license — and ordered the company to move dozens of patients to other facilities.

Allstate said it began investigating the treatment of its insured patients at FINR in 2011. Its review included interviewing patients, hiring experts to study medical records and ordering exams with a neuropsychologist. The lawsuit covers the cases of a dozen patients — identified only by initials in the legal filing — whose care was paid for by the Northbrook, Illinois-based insurance company.

In some cases, patients were kept too long at the facility or shouldn’t have been there in the first place, the lawsuit alleges.

Full Article & Source:
Allstate Sues Florida Brain-Injury Center, Claiming Fraud

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Florida Orders Brain-Injury Center to Move Some Patients

Florida Orders Brain-Injury Center to Move Some Patients

August 29, 2012

A Florida brain-injury center facing allegations of abuse has been ordered to move dozens of its patients to other facilities, according to a state report released today.

The Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation, one of the largest facilities of its kind in the country, is treating patients without brain injuries — a breach of its license, say Florida regulators.

During a surprise inspection earlier this month, state officials say they found that 50 of 98 patients whose records were reviewed did not meet the licensing criteria for treatment at the center’s main facility near Wauchula, about 50 miles Southeast of Tampa.

The state said the institute, commonly called FINR, must submit a plan to relocate those patients to a facility “that is appropriate to meet their needs.”

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration also found that FINR was keeping patients too long, another violation of its “transitional living facility” license. It ordered the center to develop a new protocol for discharging patients.

Wayne J. Miller, an attorney representing FINR, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

Surprise Inspection

Investigators from three state agencies conducted a surprise inspection on Aug. 2 and 3 following a Bloomberg News report of dozens of cases of alleged abuse and neglect at the facility. FINR, a for-profit company, treats patients from across the country.

Related: Abuse Of Brain Injured Americans Scandalizes U.S.

Patients’ families or state agencies have alleged abuse or care lapses in at least five residents’ deaths since 1998, two of them in the last two years. Three former employees face criminal charges of abusing FINR patients — one of whom was allegedly hit repeatedly for two hours in a TV room last September.

Florida’s Department of Children and Families has received 514 allegations of abuse or neglect at FINR since 2005, including 37 that were “verified” by its investigations, according to records released by the agency. Investigators are still reviewing 23 of the claims.

Amid the heightened regulatory scrutiny, 10 lobbyists from four different firms registered with Florida officials this month with the state to represent FINR, according to state records.

Full Article & Source:
Florida Orders Brain-Injury Center to Move Some Patients

See Also:
Abuse of Brain Injured Americans Scandalizes U.S.

Florida Ended Death Probe at Private Brain Rehab Center

Florida’s Most Vulnerable in Danger of Abuse

Florida Brain-Injury Center Gets Surprise Inspection

Connecticut Pulls Disabled From Site of Alleged Beatings

Police Probe Death of State Psychiatric Patient in Florida

Connecticut Pulls Disabled From Site of Alleged Beatings

August 14, 2012

A Connecticut agency plans to pull at least four disabled state residents out of a Florida rehabilitation center facing allegations that its patients were abused and neglected.

Terrence Macy, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services, said he was “outraged” watching video that police describe as footage of two autistic patients being beaten at the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation.

Macy said his department doesn’t plan to make any further placements at FINR and is taking steps to withdraw four of the 10 patients it already has sent to the facility in rural Wauchula, Florida. Last week, investigators from three state agencies conducted a surprise inspection of the treatment center, without disclosing what they found.

Wayne J. Miller, an attorney for closely held FINR, said the patients slated to leave the facility “have vastly improved as a result of the care they were given at FINR and are now well enough to be transferred to a facility in Connecticut that provides a lower level of care.” He said FINR has been working with Connecticut officials for a “few months” on the discharge of those patients.

Connecticut is responsible for certain disabled and mentally ill patients under laws entitling them to adequate care.

Incident Video

“Watching the video, I saw things that were reprehensible to me and horrific and would never be tolerated in this state,” Macy said.

In one video recorded last year, 21-year-old autistic patient Danny Silva sits on a couch between two large male staffers who punch, elbow and slap him at least 30 times.

The video was taken by a third employee using a mobile phone, according to police, and posted online last month by Bloomberg News. The two staffers have pleaded not guilty to criminal charges of abuse.

Melinda Jakobowski, a mentally ill patient sent to Wauchula by Connecticut, died at a Tampa hospital last year after she was found unresponsive in her room at FINR. Investigations by Florida regulators determined that staff members failed to watch Jakobowski as required, including one who slept on the job.

The state will step up monitoring of Connecticut patients who remain at FINR, Macy said.

Full Article and Source:
Connecticut Pulls Disabled From Site of Alleged Beatings