Until she was 14-year-old, the girl who suffered from cerebral palsy and seizures was lovingly cared for in Tampa by her mother, who pureed fresh fruit and vegetables and constantly told the girl how much she was loved.
But then, as our Coral Springs nursing home abuse lawyers understand it, the child was taken by officials with the Department of Children and Families, who insisted she would be better off in the care of a Miami Gardens nursing home. There, not even one day had passed before she reportedly was denied life-sustaining medications, and it now appears she was given nothing to eat except applesauce.
When the child struggled to gasp a breath, no one bothered to contact a doctor.
She died that night.
Her death has been spotlighted as officials with state health agencies battle with civil rights lawyers, who have argued that the state is essentially warehousing disabled and sick children. It has even gotten to the point where the U.S. Justice Department of Civil Rights has threatened to sue the state of Florida if no action is taken to help children being cared for outside state institutions.
The problem is that when disabled children are taken to a nursing home for care – particularly against a parent’s wishes – they often get very little education. They aren’t engaged in outside activities. And they often suffer serious cases of neglect.
In fact two of the six nursing homes that are specifically qualified to care for children have been placed on Florida’s watch list of sub-par facilities. One is on both the state and federal lists.
In most cases, nursing homes are not adequately equipped to provide for children. And often, it’s not the choice of the parents to send them there. The way the Florida DCF is structured, it essentially necessitates that children are unnecessarily and systematically separated from loving caregivers and placed in isolation at expensive nursing home facilities that, in the end, provide a lesser standard of care.
Because the state pays more to nursing homes when they take in a child, as opposed to an elder adult, nursing homes are eager to accept such residents. For example, the state will, on average, pay about $215 a day for the care of an elderly adult. For a disabled child, the state will fork over more than $500 a day. But that doesn’t mean the children are getting better care, and most facilities lack even the most basic resources to maintain the health and overall well-being of these children.
The Florida Health Care Association, which represents these nursing homes, has called a recent federal report and the media scrutiny of these facilities a clear attempt to “demonize” these organizations.
But you can’t deny what happened to this 14-year-old girl in Miami Gardens.
Federal inspectors have found a host of troubling trends when it comes to care of children in Florida nursing homes. These include parking them in front of the television for hours on end with no supervision. These are children who are supposed to be receiving schooling, socialization and music courses. In other cases, dozens of severely disabled children were found to be in the care of just one adult – who wasn’t even a nurse. In other cases, splints were found to have been placed on the incorrect limbs.
Some residents ultimately died as a result of neglect.
If your child has been placed in a Florida nursing home, and you fear abuse or neglect is occurring, call us today.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
A child’s sad death in a Florida nursing home, Nov. 10, 2012, By Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald
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Thanksgiving Nursing Home Visits: Recognize Abuse, Nov. 21, 2012, Coral Springs Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer