The following opinion piece was written by me and published yesterday, December 24, 2012 in The Conway Daily Sun. It is blunt and it is condemning. Why did I write it? To sound the alarm, to brighten the spotlight, to inform the public and our politicians - to make change happen at a neurological rehabilitation hospital that can quite honestly be, if it was managed and operated properly, the premier center for the care and rehabilitation of the brain injured It could be the best of the best. It could be but why isn't it? Read on after my op/ed...
What I found at Lakeview Neurorehab was a nightmare
To the editor, In the fall of 2010 I needed a job after my business failed. I had a background in human services. I also had an interest in brain injury. Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center and Specialty Hospital in Effingham, was hiring rehabilitation specialists. I applied and was hired on Dec. 27, 2010. I went there to learn about how to care for brain injured people. What I found was a nightmare — a ‘Stephen King’ like horror show.
Fueled by the love of money.A for-profit health care center that on a regular basis cannot or will not protect, defend or rehabilitate its patients.
As they so glibly advertise: ‘It’s About Life! But it is not. It is about money. It is about treating patients like ‘assets’, banks of money they can keep embedded in their “health care” system. Granted, many patients at Lakeview are difficult patients — the patients many other facilities would rather not have but, these are people who are loved by their families. They are people who are damaged, who are struggling to recover.They want help. They want to live. They want to leave Lakeview in better condition than when the were admitted. Many do not and some die there.
I spent the last two years documenting their plight. I have written a book celebrating their lives and exposing their pain and suffering but I also write about their spirit — the hopes they have and their sense of humor, a sense of humor that is surprising in it’s pathos.
I have always had a deep and abiding love for humanity. This experience has deepened it further, much further than I thought possible.
I love all of my patients. I will not allow a single patient at Lakeview to be mistreated again without justice. I stand up for them ... I am their voice.
Mike Corthell Fryeburg, Maine
Lakeview is privately owned corporation. It is a for-profit business. I will say, right off the bat, that it needs to have no profit motive what-so-ever. The mind of money should not enter into any treatment plan for any of my patients. I've seen patients who are well moneyed either by family wealth or insurance settlement, be treated better - given more privileges than say a fellow patient funded by Mainecare.
I have witnessed corporate greed during my time at Lakeview. Several therapists have been observed allegedly filling out paperwork to charge 'group time' out to insurance companies, including Mainecare for services not actually delivered. And for instance, a clinician or therapist will have a group of say sixteen clients watch a movie (this is a 'movie group') The clinician can only write four reports (Notes) used to charge the insurance company, therefore three other staff members are needed to write a report detailing the patients participation in the 'movie group'. Oftentimes the clinician will enlist a staff person that wasn't even there for the 'movie group'! The clinician will say, ''Here are four patients (hands the staff person a paper with four names) write a report for each client.''
I have also seen a clinician take a large binder with blank reports home over the weekend. We can only wonder if the therapist took proper notes to complete the paperwork that is essentially a bill for services.
The preceding is just a snapshot of what is wrong with a for-profit Lakeview. There is so much more detail I can add about the mismanagement there, from a non existent employee retention policy/program to poor facility maintenance and building code violations.
The greatest problem I see is not just the low staffing levels but the very real consequences for said low staffing - the danger to patients if there should ever be a major fire in 'Main House', a thirty-three bed institution at 244 Hihgwatch Road in Effingham New Hampshire. Many patients are bedridden, unable to help themselves. Others are in wheelchairs and need help getting into their wheelchairs. Still others do not have the cognitive ability to remove themselves from the building.
If any of these issues concern you as a citizen, as a caring human being, join me and voice your concern. Call, email your local and state representatives. Call or write the attorney general, the department of health and human services in Concord New Hampshire. But above all discuss this with your friends and family. Brain injury either traumatic or acquired is all too common. Would you like your mom, dad, sister, brother or child treated in the way I've described here? I think not.
Now is the time to speak up and speak out. Lakeview has to change and changing to a non-profit company is a good first step.