Disability Providers Push State For COVID-19 Tests

Jul 2, 2020
The news also comes amid complaints that coronavirus test results were delayed for thousands of residents.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Gov. Ron DeSantis says his administration has made a top priority of protecting frail and elderly people in long-term care facilities from COVID-19, including requiring regular testing of staff members and providing test kits to the facilities.

DeSantis' Budget Vetoes A 'Big Hit' To Florida's Health Care System

Jun 30, 2020
Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed scores of health care-related projects but also cut into what is known as the "base budget, which includes programs funded with recurring dollars.

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed more than $140.5 million in health care spending from the state’s new budget Monday as he brought the spending plan in line with reduced revenues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budget Questions Loom For Disabilities Programs

Jun 25, 2020
Gov. Ron DeSantis

Gov. Ron DeSantis this week signed into law a pair of bills that will change how the state offers services to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

DeSantis and local officials shut down most businesses in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Backing one of Senate President Bill Galvano’s priorities, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed a bill that will revamp a program that helps people with intellectual or developmental disabilities live in their homes and communities.

Sunland Center from the outside
Google Maps

The results are in of more than 1,000 novel coronavirus tests at Sunland Center in Marianna, with 22 staff members and 16 residents testing positive at the facility for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, according to the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

Answers Sought On COVID-19 In Disability Facilities

May 21, 2020
Sunland Center from the outside
Google Maps

Amid a surge in COVID-19 infections in nursing homes and other senior facilities, a watchdog organization wants to know what steps Florida has taken to keep people with developmental disabilities safe in state institutions.

It's a moment that people with disabilities have long feared: there's a shortage of life-saving equipment, like ventilators, and doctors say they may be forced to decide who lives and who dies.

People with disabilities worry those judgments will reflect a prejudice that their lives hold less value.

State health officials have drafted rationing plans that exclude some people with significant disabilities from ventilators and other treatment.

Distance Learning For Students With Disabilities

Mar 30, 2020

As Florida schools switch to distance learning, districts are brainstorming how to give services to students with disabilities. However, that may be challenging in the new digital landscape. 

Lawmakers Back Disabilities Change, Get Contributions

Mar 10, 2020
the Florida state capitol building

Two legislators who have sponsored bills that would allow new institutions to be built for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities received campaign contributions from the president of a company that would benefit from the legislation.

Florida Legislature
Florida House of Representatives

While House Speaker Jose Oliva is using health care as a bargaining chip to end the 2020 legislative session, Senate Republican leaders have their own health-care priorities they want resolved in the waning days.

Disability rights advocates say a plan to revamp administration of a key program  is now moving in the right direction. Florida Republican Sen. Aaron Bean has taken the lead on changes to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in an attempt to stop decades of budget deficits.  Advocates say changes to Bean’s proposal aren’t perfect, but they’re better than where he started.

DeSantis Budget Boosts Disabilities Spending

Nov 19, 2019
Heather Snyder, 31st Medical Operation Squadron educational and developmental intervention services speech and language pathologist, hands a plastic coin to Nathan Gribble, a patient at the Educational and Developmental Intervention Services clinic.
Staff Sgt. Taylor L. Marr / U.S. Air Force photo

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday called for legislators to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as $20 million into the state’s prescription-drug importation effort --- or about $5 million less than what a top state health official sought. 

Improvements Pitched For People With Disabilities Program

Sep 25, 2019
A girl with down syndrome swings in the sun.

With time running out before state officials offer changes to a Medicaid program that serves people with disabilities, an advocacy group has proposed ways to make the program better, including steering clear of for-profit managed care plans. 

Bonnielin Swenor has devoted her life to studying visual impairment in older adults. But for a long time, she didn't often discuss the motivation fueling her work — that she herself has low vision.

Why So Many Older Americans Rate Their Health As Good Or Even Excellent

Jun 13, 2019
Older hand holding another hand

A common myth about aging is that older adults are burdened by illness and feel lousy much of the time. In fact, the opposite is usually true. Most seniors report feeling distinctly positive about their health. 

Carol Burgos is worried her neighbors think she is bringing the neighborhood down.

She lives in a mobile home park in a woodsy part of Columbia County, N.Y, just off a two-lane highway. The homes have neat yards and American flags. On a spring Saturday, some neighbors are out holding yard sales, with knickknacks spread out on folding tables. Others are out doing yardwork.

Burgos' lawn is unruly and overgrown.

"How bad do I feel when these little old ladies are mowing their lawn and I can't because I'm in so much pain?" she says.

Paralympian Strives To Help People With Disabilities

Apr 22, 2019
Team USA (l to r): Jimmy Jam Joseph, Jacqui Kapinowski and Jim Pierce
adrain8_8 / Wikimedia Commons

Jacqui Kapinowski has battled cancer, bacterial meningitis — twice — and a rare neurological disorder that robbed her of the use of her legs. 

Lee County Supervisor of Elections, Tommy Boyle, wants to make sure voters with disabilities can vote. But state law says touch screen voting must be phased out by 2020. Boyle says touch screen systems are the best option for voters with disabilities and wants the law to change.

Lisa Iezzoni was in medical school at Harvard in the early 1980s when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She started experiencing some of the symptoms, including fatigue, but she wasn't letting that get in the way of her goal. Then came the moment she scrubbed in on a surgery and the surgeon told her what he thought of her chances in the field.

"He opined that I had no right to go into medicine because I lacked the most important quality in medicine," Iezzoni recalls "And that was 24/7 availability."

Lighthouse of the Big Bend’s 7th annual ‘Techno Demo Day’ highlights the newest assistive technologies available in the area.

Flickr Creative Commons

The Arc Sunrise of Central Florida opened its seventh home in Eustis for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. 

A Tallahassee residential community for the disabled is edging closer to reality. The latest fundraiser for the proposed “Independence Landing” at Southwood gave the project a significant boost.

Shelly Baer was working with an organization that supports people with disabilities when somebody suggested making a fundraising calendar: nudes of women with disabilities.

The Florida Cabinet commemorated Disability Employment Awareness Month at its Tuesday meeting.

The version of healthcare reform passed by the U.S. House early last month would be devastating to Florida patients who have disabilities. That was the message Tuesday (6/6) morning from more than a dozen advocate organizations in Tallahassee.

Several decades ago, Evan Nodvin's life probably would have looked quite different.

Nodvin has his own apartment just outside Atlanta, in Sandy Springs, Ga., which he shares with a roommate, and a job at a local community fitness center. He also has Down syndrome.

"I give out towels, and put weights away, and make sure people are safe," the 38-year-old says.

To get to and from work, Nodvin relies on rides from people who are hired to help him. He also has a counselor to help him do daily chores like grocery shopping, cleaning and cooking.

More Floridians could lose their health insurance under legislation being considered by the U.S. Senate. That includes the poor, the disabled and military veterans.

Pet owners are increasingly signing up to have their animals certified as “comfort” "therapy" or "emotional support" animals. The certification can be helpful for some conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety, but significant differences separate comfort dogs from medical assistance dogs, including training, certification, and where they are legally allowed to go under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The holidays are coming early for some Jacksonville children with disabilities. On Friday evening, they’re getting special vehicles and toys modified just for them.

University of North Florida students adapted the toys as part of a class that meshes engineering and physical therapy.

On Thursday, students were putting the finishing touches on the cars they’re upgrading for eight lucky patients, like Brycen, who has Down syndrome. His vehicle is a mini BMW with lots of customization.

At the Marshfield Clinic dental center in Chippewa Falls, Wis., hygienist Karen Eslinger is getting her room ready. It's all quite routine — covering the chair's headrest with plastic, opening instruments, wiping down trays.

But then she starts getting creative.