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Health officials strike at media

Health officials slammed the media Wednesday for "sensational" reporting on government failures to report tuberculosis outbreaks, provide adequate care for disabled children in nursing homes, and protect elderly and disabled residents in assisted living facilities.

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Liz Dudek told lawmakers in the Health Policy committee she was "enraged" by media coverage about the state placing children in nursing homes.

"We do not place our medically complex or medically fragile children in nursing homes," Dudek said, adding that the parent decides where to place their child. "The last place we want children is away from their parents."

The federal justice department sent a scathing 22-page letter to Attorney General Pam Bondi in September accusing the state of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by placing severely disabled children in geriatric nursing homes.

AHCA has reached out to parents of all 222 children in nursing homes to help them change locations if they are unhappy with their care. Only one parent asked for a change, Dudek said.

She also refuted claims that nursing home placements are a way to save money, or that children are unnecessarily separated from their parents. 

"The issue of cost is not one we look at..." she said. "It breaks my heart and partially enrages me to read in the clips that...we have this funding scheme for children in nursing homes. That's not at all the case."

Dudek also touted proposals by Gov. Rick Scott's assisted living facility workgroup and told lawmakers she would bring them proposals to streamline regulations for the assisted living facility industry and increase credentialing requirements for administrators.

Scott formed the workgroup in response to a 2-year Miami Herald series that exposed systemic abuse and neglect for elderly and disabled people in assisted living facilities. But critics accused Scott of stacking the panel with industry representatives, and said several of the proposals would deliver breaks to the powerful ALF industry.

"We have good providers, let's not focus on them," Dudek said. "Let's focus on the poor performing providers to bring  them up or get them out of the system."

Kristina Wiggins, deputy secretary of the Department of Health, also railed against media coverage of tuberculosis outbreaks in Jacksonville.

The Palm Beach Post reported in July that the department covered up information on tuberculosis outbreaks even as lawmakers made plans to close down the state's only tuberculosis hospital.

Committee Chair Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said he's concerned the department didn't share all they knew and asked if new policies should be passed to make sure the public is notified of future outbreaks.

The current policies are fine, Wiggins said, adding that trouble came because of how difficult it is to track tuberculosis in homeless people, who are often transient.

"(The media) information was sensationalized unfortunately," she said.


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Nancy Jean

The state is worred that they are accused of trying to save money, perhaps over-zealously?
Seriously? That's their concern?
Perhaps the people entrusted with our tax dollars can first explain WTF happened to the disabled teen who was yanked from her mom's care at home and driven five hours, unmedicated, to a Miami nursing home.
In an abulance that refused to administer her rx., and also refused to transport her mom. So the kid was alone with strangers, off meds, dehydrated and scared to death.
Then it got worse. At least for the ambulance ride she was alive.
The next day she passed away. At 14. With no family nearby.
Astounded that someone who works for me is more worried I will think she wastes money{I do think this already} than she oversees a criminally incompetent dept. That kills disabled kids.
DCF, a crappy gov. lawyer and a hospital social worker have their fingerprints all over that kid's coffin.
May she rest inpeace.
As for this squealing paper-pusher so worried we question her budget, or the cast of dopes who ended up killing the girl - watch out.
What goes around, come around. Karma's a witch.


It seems like the problem here is an adversarial relationship with the media. Another way for doctors and hospitals to approach the media would be to partner with it, to help better engage doctors and patients treatment. Here's an example of one company that provides easy-to-read, doctor approved news, on-line and through social media. They even partner with hospitals.


Why don't more hospital do this?

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