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Report due soon on alleged abuse at neuro-rehab centers

By John Koziol
Union Leader Correspondent

November 27. 2014 8:10PM
A report that examines the operations of the Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center, shown here on Sept. 30, will be released sometime in mid-December. Earlier this year, a disability-rights group alleged that Lakeview has exhibited a long-term "pattern of poor treatment" of patients. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

EFFINGHAM — Prompted by allegations of "a long-term pattern of poor treatment" at the Lakeview Neurorehabilitation Center, a report that examines the facility’s operations will be made public in December, according to state officials.

Marilee Nihan, the deputy commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, on Tuesday said the report being written by an independent investigator will be made available sometime around Dec. 10.

On Sept. 30, the Concord-based Disability Rights Center said that Lakeview, over several years, "had engaged in a long-term pattern of poor treatment resulting in abuse and neglect, injuries and, in one case, death."

Although Lakeview "strongly" disputed the DRC’s assertions, Gov. Maggie Hassan ordered the DHHS to immediately stop placing patients there and at a related center, The Meadows, in Belmont.

Nihan has previously said that the state has upwards of 40 patients placed at the 88-bed Lakeview facility, and as many as 20 in Belmont, most of whom are persons with acquired-brain disorders.

In addition to ordering the admissions freeze, Hassan directed that the DHHS, which oversees Lakeview, to engage outside experts to do a licensing and complaint review of Lakeview. The governor also said she would initiate "an outside review" of DHHS’s "handling of Lakeview, and its response to recent incidents at Lakeview."

The outside review team was at Lakeview for five days beginning Nov. 10, said Nihan, who added that DHHS has been doing wellness checks at Lakeview three times a week since the DRC "white papers" were released.

Although DHHS has not sent new patients to Lakeview or The Meadows in months, Nihan said the agency has not removed any patients either.
"While we have been monitoring Lakeview closely, we have not seen anything significantly distressing to us" that would warrant the removal of patients, said Nihan, adding that DHHS continues to receive and review complaints about Lakeview through its Adult Protection Services Bureau.

The DHHS in the latter part of December will bring in an another independent reviewer to determine whether Lakeview is employing industry "best practices" and also to determine if current administrative rules "are adequate for licensing facilities such as Lakeview."

David Armstrong, who is Lakeview’s administrator and a member of the leadership team at The Meadows, in an e-mail to the Union Leader on Monday, said Lakeview has "cooperated fully" with DHHS investigators.

"We are uncertain when a report might be issued by state authorities, however we are open to its feedback. As far as we know at this time there have been no substantial findings," said Armstrong.

While waiting for the report, "we continue to serve our clients," Armstrong added.

"Our program has a strong and longstanding commitment to serving individuals whom other providers are unwilling or unable to help. We strive to serve all individuals in the most integrated way possible. The goal of all our programs is to provide a safe and caring environment for each program participant and for our staff."

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