Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Neglect and Abuse at Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center

by Mike Corthell*

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center in Effingham, New Hampsire may not be an out and out 'scam' like some neurorehabilitation centers ( this is one of the worst in the nation ) but it has a for-profit 'problem'. It could correct itself but that is unlikely. A financial audit and a thorough investigation would be a good start.

It may not be the worst, but the danger there for patients and staff is real.

The following opinion piece was written by me and published on December 24, 2012 in The Conway Daily Sun. It is blunt and it is condemning. Why did I write it? To sound the alarm, to brighten the spotlight, to inform the public and our politicians - to make change happen at a neurological rehabilitation hospital that can quite honestly, if it were managed well and operated properly, become the very best center for the care and rehabilitation of brain injured people in the world. It could be the best of the best. It could be but why isn't it? Read on after my opinion piece.

What I found at Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center was a nightmare** 
In the fall of 2010 I needed a job after my business failed. I had a background in human services. I also had an interest in brain injury.Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center and Specialty Hospital in Effingham, was hiring rehabilitation specialists. I applied and was hired on Dec. 27, 2010. I went there to learn about how to care for brain injured people. What I found was a nightmare — a ‘Stephen King’ like horror show. Fueled by greed, a for-profit health care center that on a regular basis cannot or will not protect, defend or rehabilitate its patients.
As they so glibly advertise: ‘It’s About Life! But it is not. It is about money. It is about treating patients like ‘assets’, banks of money they can keep embedded in their “health care” system. 
Granted, many patients at Lakeview are difficult patients — the patients many other facilities would rather not have. But, these are people who are loved by their families. They are people who are damaged, who are struggling to recover.They want help. They want to live. They want to leave Lakeview in better condition than when the were admitted. Many do not and some have died there.

I spent the last two years documenting their plight. I have written a book celebrating their lives and exposing their pain and suffering but I also write about their spirit — the hopes they have and their sense of humor, a sense of humor that is surprising in it’s pathos....

Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center is privately owned corporation. It is a for-profit business. The mind of money should never enter into any treatment plan for any of my patients. I've seen patients who are well moneyed either by family wealth or insurance settlement, be treated better - given more privileges than a fellow patient funded by Mainecare.

I have witnessed corporate greed during my time at Lakeview. Several therapists have been observed allegedly filling out paperwork to charge 'group time' out to insurance companies, including Mainecare for services not actually delivered. And for instance, a clinician or therapist will have a group of say sixteen clients watch a movie (this is a movie group) The clinician can only write four reports - notes (on four patients at a time) used to charge the insurance company, therefore three other staff members are needed to write a report detailing the patients participation in the 'movie group'. Oftentimes the clinician will enlist a staff person that wasn't even there for the movie group. The clinician will say, ''Here are four patients (hands the staff person a paper with four names) write a report for each client.'' 

I have also seen a clinician take a large binder with blank reports home over the weekend. We can only wonder if the therapist took proper notes to complete the paperwork that is essentially a bill for services.

The preceding is just a snapshot of what is wrong with a for-profit Lakeview. There is so much more detail I can add about the mismanagement there, from a non existent employee retention policy/program to poor facility maintenance and building code violations. 

The greatest problem I have observed there is not just the low staffing levels but the very real consequences for the low staffing levels - the danger to patients if there should ever be a major fire in 'Main House', a thirty-three bed institution at 244 Highwatch Road Effingham, New Hampshire.  Many patients are bedridden, unable to help themselves. Others are in wheelchairs and need help getting into their wheelchairs. Still others do not have the cognitive ability to remove themselves from the building.

If any of these issues concern you as a citizen, as a caring human being, join me and voice your concern. Call or email your local selectmen and state representatives.  Call or write the NH attorney general and the department of health and human services in Concord New Hampshire.

But above all, discuss this with your friends and family. Brain injury is all too common. Would you like your mom, dad, sister, brother or child treated in the way I've described here? I think not. 

Now is the time to speak up and speak out. Lakeview has to change and changing from a for-profit to a non-profit company is a great idea.

We need not hope for Lakeview's closure. Rehabilitation for the brain injured in needed. as well as the employment it provides for our citizens.

If Lakeview's conversion to a non-profit corporation* is brought to fruition, that will absolutely relieve the suffering of my patients and change their lives in ways you can not ever imagine.

*This article was first publish in December of 2012. Since then the care of the patients has remained basically unchanged.

** If you have direct knowledge of patient about abuse and neglect
 at any brain injury treatment center facility in the United States please email us.



*Mike Corthell is the editor and publisher of the Fryeburg Free Press. 

Copyright 2012- 2013, Michael Corthell, Fryeburg Free Press

1 comment:

  1. I worked as an RN at Lakeview for 10 years, from 2000 to 2010, and loved the job, the residents, and the employees. But, I left after being assaulted and having a large male staff member stand aside and watch me being attacked by a resident. I had approached the administration about parameters in which I could call the local police for assistance, and was told that it was not permissable in any circumstances. It felt very unsafe, even though I know some of the residents would stand up and protect me, though staff was not permitted to intervene. The head psychiatrist's take on things was that the patients meant money, but the staff is expendable, replaceable. The administration advised the staff to "run with pride" when residents were being assaultive.