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FINR to dispute ACHA’s findings; argues that ACHA misinterprets Florida law

By on August 24, 2012

The Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation (FINR) is set to dispute a letter that the Agency for Health Care Administration (ACHA) sent yesterday finding that a discharge plan must be put in place for 50 patients who did not have a “traumatic brain injury.” 

But the agency may have gotten it wrong. The crux of the problem is that Florida statute has always allowed people with “head injuries,” not just traumatic brain injuries, to be treated in a transitional living facility – which FINR is. 

The statute reads: c) “Transitional living facility” means a site where specialized health care services are provided, including, but not limited to, rehabilitative services, community reentry training, aids for independent living, and counseling to spinal-cord-injured persons and head-injured persons.

The 50 patients that ACHA identified are all head injured – which the statute clearly states are allowed to be housed in a transitional living facility.  The state law simply does not match the interpretation by AHCA. 

It’s also worth pointing out, that after several stories about maltreatment or inappropriate care by FINR, ACHA did not find any evidence of this in the facility.  

Adding another interesting twist to the story, according to the Associated Press FINR contends that the negative news articles are being rehashed by a neighboring phosphate mine as part of a land grab.  A portion of AP’s story is below:

The hospital’s owner says the abuse charges are old and being rehashed as part of an attempt by a neighboring business, a fertilizer company, to damage the facility’s reputation so it can gain a lucrative permit to extract an estimated billion dollars worth of phosphate near hospital land.

Hospital CEO Joseph Brennick says the hospital has dealt with abuse incidents by firing staff and installing surveillance cameras. Brennick believes that the fertilizer company, CF Industries, is seizing on past allegations to discredit the hospital before a coming decision by county officials on whether the company will be allowed to mine phosphate near hospital land.

The company cannot mine within a quarter mile of the hospital’s property under a 2007 ruling by a county board of commissioners. Hardee County officials estimate there may be a few million tons of phosphate within that quarter-mile area, worth roughly $1.25 billion.

CF Industries is seeking a waiver to allow mining to proceed in the restricted area, which the county is expected to discuss later this month.

A Tallahassee public relations firm has been calling attention to the hospital’s abuse allegations on behalf of a consumer advocacy group. The PR firm also represents the fertilizer company, but both parties have denied claims they are promoting the hospital’s abuse incidents.

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