Florida Agency Reviews Deaths At Private Run State Facility

I found the story in the San Francisco Chronicle, (Department of Children and Families) DCF reviews deaths at GEO-run state hospital.

Three gruesome deaths at the privately run South Florida State Hospital triggered an investigation that revealed concerns that employees were overmedicating patients and failed to call the state abuse hotline after a patient died in a scalding bathtub, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

GEO pulls the strings of Rick Scott, our present governor, being a big time contributor to his election campaigns. If Governor Scott is good to his friends, well, GEO must be considered one of those friends.

GEO runs three other facilities in Florida: the Florida Civil Commitment Center in Arcadia, which treats sex offenders; and mental health facilities in Indiantown and Florida City for patients who aren’t competent to stand trial or have been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

What is this about? 3 deaths within the scope of 2 months, unreported, and in one instance, with accusations of a cover up.

1. Aug. 2011, Lois Espina, head slammed through a wall, or so it is thought.
2. Jun. 2011, Luis Santana, found dead in scalding bath skin sloughing from his body.
3. Jun. 2011, James Bragman, known to be suicidal, breaks from his attendant, and leaps off a roof.

None of the three deaths were reported to the state abuse hotline, which triggers a formal investigation. The new contract will include a fine if the facility doesn’t report all deaths to the hotline, [DCF Secretary David] Wilkins said.

These deaths hardly break the surface when it comes to what’s wrong with Florida’s mental health facilities. Let’s hope these incidents send a strong message to people enduring that mental health system, the mental health system here is oppressive, hierarchical and ultimately harmful. People trapped within that system need empowerment and choice. It’s time to pressure the state government to change it’s policies and practices with regard to people in distress.