The Florida Democratic Disability Caucus Calls on AHCA Secretary to Review Care of State’s Ventilato

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – Today, the Florida Democratic Disability Caucus issued the following statement calling on Secretary Mary Mayhew of the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to review the care of the state’s ventilator-dependent patients following a Miami Herald investigative report:

“The Florida Democratic Disability Caucus condemns the actions of the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) in their on-going and decades-long discrimination against Florida’s ventilator dependent patients. AHCA has failed to implement a network of long-term care facilities that are equipped to provide the specialized care that Floridians with disabilities are entitled to receive. As a result, AHCA’s lack of care has not only forced ventilator-dependent patients to languish in hospitals across Florida, they have forced them to move out of the state and away from their families who provide them with the love and support they need. Individuals who are ventilator-dependent face a future of isolation and death. We urge AHCA Secretary Mary Mayhew to conduct an immediate review of the care of all ventilator-dependent patients throughout the state. This treatment of Florida’s most vulnerable under AHCA’s watch is not only discriminatory, it’s cruel.”

Recently, a lawsuit was been filed by a ventilator-dependent patient against the secretary of the AHCA who has been occupying a bed in Tampa General Hospital for over a year. An article published in the Miami Herald states, “When the administrators evict her from her bed as planned, she faces a terrible choice: She can return home, where her husband and adult daughter are both incapable of caring for her, or she can die alone, more than 330 miles away - in Georgia.”

BACKGROUND:

·      In 2009, the courts ordered a patient to leave the University Community Hospital where he had been a patient for over 1000 days. In this case, physicians determined his conditioned had stabilized and he could be cared for at home or moved to a skilled nursing facility. The options were facilities far from their home in Florida or out of state and the family felt he would not be safe and they could not see him every day or assist in his care.

·      In 2010, The Governor’s Commission on Disabilities presented their report to then Governor Charlie Christ. The report summed up Florida’s approximately 120 Vent Dependent individuals as “living in trauma centers because nursing homes and assisted living facilities will not accept them, and they are unable to return home.” It went on to say that “a proposed Florida version of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Senate Bill 2396, if passed would have brought the major protections of the federal law into state law. Floridians with disabilities would have had a state remedy to pursue.” The bill failed.

·      In 2011, the Tampa Bay Times article entitled “Florida hospitals stuck with long-term, costly ventilator care” summarized that patients “could have been cared for at a fraction of the cost - if Florida had the right kind of nursing facilities.” And, the vice-president of medical affairs of St. Petersburg’s Bayfront Medical Center, said of the lack of long-term ventilator beds, “sadly, our state has decided not to prioritize this.”


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

March 30, 2019

CONTACT: Karen M. Clay, 813-784-0899

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