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Centers Had History of Abuse

FL Institute for Neurologic Rehabiitation.jpeg

Two Florida centers that housed vulnerable populations -- adults with brain-damage, teen girls accused of delinquency -- had a long history of trouble before problems came to the attention of authorities, according to reports over the weekend.

They are the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation in Wauchula and the Milton Girls Juvenile Residential Facility, hundreds of miles apart but not so different in the reports coming out.

According to the Pensacola News-Journal,  the Department of Juvenile Justice clamped an admission freeze on the Milton Girls Juvenile Residential Facility on Friday, two days after a video surfaced showing a guard pushing an unresisting teen-age girl roughly against the wall, face-first, and pinning her to the ground.

DJJ said it had learned that the Panhandle youth prison, which is privately owned but operated under a state contract, had previous incidents of abuse that it had not known about -- including one in which the director of the facility was accused of physical assault. It is now under investigation by law enforcement, the newspaper said.

In a separate report,  Bloomberg News continued its revelations about the privately-owned center for brain-damaged patients in Wauchula, about an hour's drive southeast of Tampa.  After going to court to obtain records of reported abuse reports, Bloomberg reported there had been 15 since 2008, and all of them were substantiated.

The neurological center is fighting state orders that it move 50 patients to other facilities. Those came after a Bloomberg story revealed a history of violence, including at least five patient deaths.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.