For nearly 20 years, the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation, located south of Tampa, has served as a high-priced alternative for patients recovering from or living with brain injuries. The 196-bed facility has previously been billed as one of the largest brain injury rehabilitation centers of its kind, but a recent investigation by Bloomberg News has helped exposed what many patients and their families have been alleging for years – that the staff at FINR has a history of mistreating, abusing and even killing patients.
According to Bloomberg, a patient named Peter Price swallowed fish hooks and batteries in order to expedite his release from the FINR facility and move to another hospital. Price told his sister that the staff at the institute had regularly beat him. Additionally, one surveillance video shows an FINR staff member kicking a patient before shoving him to the ground, while another video recorded on a hidden camera shows an autistic patient being beaten by two staff members, who are currently facing trial.
FINR is no stranger to these kinds of accusations and negative press. In 2011, the institute was the subject of a police probe after a Connecticut woman, Melinda Jakobowski, had died within 6 months of being transferred from the Connecticut Valley Hospital to FINR. Because of a history of suicide attempts, Melinda was to have been under constant supervision. However, her relatives told police that Melinda had complained many times about the FINR staff.
In 2005, the family of Marine Michael Lieux was awarded a $5 million verdict after it was determined that he died as the result of the actions of 5 FINR employees. During the trial, it was proven that the 5 staff members had pinned Lieux, who had suffered a brain injury during his military service, face down and suffocated him to death. Two additional resident deaths were reported that year, and FINR’s lawyers and executives settled with the families of those patients out of court.
Today, Bloomberg issued an update to the initial report of accusations of violence and mistreatment, as it has been proven through a surprise inspection by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration that the facility was also admitting and treating patients who did not have brain injuries, which is a violation of the institute’s license. State regulators reviewed 98 patients and determined that 50 of them did not have sufficient reasons to be FINR residents, and it was also determined that many patients were being kept at the facility too long.