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Consumer org.: State or fed must take over brain rehab institute

12:11 AM, Jan 12, 2013   |    comments
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Tallahassee, FL-- There are new calls for Federal or State Agencies to take over a brain rehabilitation institute in Wauchula, about 50 miles South of Tampa. 

The Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation, FINR has been under fire since last fall, following a series of 10 News Investigator Stories.

A story this past week exposing another brain injured patient being beaten and taken to the hospital has cause a new call for official intervention.

Former Assistant Attorney General Walter Dartland,  now executive director of the Consumer Federation of the Southeast says, "This is really a category five situation. It has gotten worse and it needs to be taken care of right now."

Dartland, says there is no more time to waste. Since last fall, we have been reporting on brain injured patients being beaten, deaths occurring at the facility and, despite the fact the spotlight  is now shinning on FINR, the incidents of abuse and beatings that send brain injured patients to the hospital continue.

Documentary: FINR - Highway to Heaven or Road to Hell?

Stephanie Watson knows the horror first hand. She asks "How can this place continue to run."

Watson was visiting her boyfriend Scott Berg on Sunday when according to a Hardee County Sheriff's report, five employees walked into Berg's room and battered, punched, chocked and dragged him to the ground. Watson says she was pushed out the door into the hallway.

"I hear them punching him, I hear Scott gasping for air saying, 'I can't breathe; I can't breathe. Get off of me! Get off of me!'" says Watson. 

"The first gentleman that started it said, 'Sorry I'm not moving', and I hear him repetitively punching him over and over again."

She continues to tell her story, "I'm screaming from the door, 'there's five of you's on him! You're going to hurt him; you're going to kill him."

FINR has been under fire from several state agencies from DCF to the Agency for Health Care Administration, ACHA, but nothing has been done. 

Now, Dartland  is calling for State or Federal officials to step in immediately.

"Somebody has got to get down there quickly, take a look at it, make sure it is operating correctly and if it is not, take it over."

In addition to the cases of abuse and death that have already been reported, FINR, which receives up to a million dollars per year in insurance money to care for patients, has now filed for Bankruptcy in Federal court.

Dartland says it will only make the vitiation worse. 

"They have financial difficulties. I am worried about the level of care those people have."

And while there have been calls in the past for an outside agency to step in and take over the facility, the pressure is now mounting for something to be done. 

Watson says, "Nobody can speak for them because they can't speak for themselves. This has got to stop across the board for every single person in that facility- it's worse than a prison."

Amazingly Berg's guardian who has several patients in FINR defends the beating and says it falls within FINR acceptable protocol. 

FINR says it cannot comment because of HIPPA regulations.  

The state has told FINR it must provide proof by Monday that it can financially support the patients it has. 

Although the state has been saying since the fall that something must change at the institute, nothing has happened.

 


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