The doctor said the issue isn’t about Smith not receiving a nod, but the fact the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has failed for two consecutive years to nominate for a major award any black, Hispanic or Asian actor, calling the Academy “a country club of exclusivity” and a “remnant of our dark past.”
“I think it is high time to find an alternative to the Academy that will reflect modern times,” he said.
Omalu is on a mission to enlighten the public about how repeated concussions in sports causes the neurological condition CTE that brings on dementia, mental illness and other problems for pro athletes.
In the wake of numerous stories of abuse throughout the state of incapacitated seniors by guardians, the Florida House sent a bill to Gov. Rick Scott to exert regulatory authority over such professionals.
By a vote of115-2, the House passed a bill designed to create the Office of Public and Professional Guardians. For the first time, the state will have the power to investigate and discipline professional guardians.
The Legislature’s action comes in the wake of media reports about professional guardians who are more interested in draining the savings of incapacitated seniors than protecting them. Last month, The Palm Beach Post’s series Guardianship: A Broken Trust brought to public attention the role of the judiciary in exacerbating the guardianship problem.
The bill was also passed on a day when protesters marched outside of the Palm Beach County Courthouse in Delray Beach, calling for judicial reform in the wake of The Post’s guardianship stories, which led to Chief Judge Jeffrey Cobalth to transfer Circuit Judge Martin Colin, whose wife, Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt, is a guardian, to another division and to announce training and other changes.
The bill, which passed the Senate on Feb. 2, has received support from Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida State Guardianship Association.
The lawmaker behind the proposal, Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, has referred to unethical professional guardians as “cockroaches,” saying they “prey upon the elderly.”
Under guardianships, seniors found by the court to be unable to take care of themselves often lose all legal rights to make decisions for themselves. When a family member is not available or they can’t agree on what to do, a judge can appoint professional guardians to make decisions on finances, medical care and housing for the senior.
Anybody can become a professional guardian with such vast powers over another’s life by simply going through a credit and criminal check and 40 hours of training.
Dr. Sam Sugar, co-founder of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship, hailed Detert for her determination. “We hope the momentum towards meaningful reform of the guardianship system in Florida will continue as other new champions arise in the Legislature,” he said.
The law is the second measure of guardianship reform passed by the Legislature in as many years. In 2015, a law was signed by Gov. Scott that imposed criminal penalties for exploitation or abuse of a senior in guardianship, requires more notice of emergency temporary guardianship proceedings, and makes it harder to suspend a family member’s power of attorney during the litigation process.
Fernando Gutierrez, a director of the GuardianAssociation of Pinellas County, said he said the new law focuses solely on financial abuse, not on failure of those in his industry to to properly make correct medical decisions for the seniors in their care – including when to withdraw medical care at the end of life.
“I was telling staff people of the senators a CNA (certified nursing assistant) has more medical training than 98 percent of the guardians out there,” he said.
Gutierrez said he has received some opposition from his fellow professional guardians for embracing reform.
“I’m sort of like the black sheep,” he said. “They think I’m trying to lessen the credibility of the guardian, but far from it. I’m speaking for the silent majority.”
Colin’s wife – Elizabeth “Betsy” Savitt – works as a professional guardian for incapacitated seniors and adults. The Post found numerous complaints about Savitt taking tens of thousands of dollars in fees without judicial approval, double-billing and funneling cash to suspect family members of the seniors in her care.
In the meantime, families said Colin’s colleagues would turn a blind eye to their complaints about Savitt – particularly Circuit Judge David French, reportedly a friend of Colin and Savitt.
Besides his job as judge, Colin helped coordinate the Eldercare program, which sought to resolve disputes among family members of seniors in guardianships. The program uses professionals – such as psychologists, lawyers and former judges – to sit down with families over a two-year span in hopes of resolving issues over money and care.
Circuit Judge Janice Brustares Keyser will now oversee the program, which is still in its infant stages but aims to save money by decreasing litigation in court. Some guardianship attorneys make thousands of dollars in fees – taken from the seniors’ accounts – by exploiting family discord, according to guardianship reform advocates.
Ithaca’s mayor has a unique plan to address the drug epidemic in his community: a supervised heroin injection facility.
“I have watched for 20 years this system that just doesn’t work,” Svante Myrick, 28, explained in an Associated Press interview. “We can’t wait anymore for the federal government. We have people shooting up in alleys. In bathroom stalls. And too many of them are dying.”
Myrick’s plan is to create a facility where heroin users can shoot the illegal drug with a clean needle under the supervision of a nurse, and without fear of being arrested by police. Medical staff will be available if the user should accidentally overdose, and other resources will be available if the addict wants to seek recovery treatment.
“I think for a lot of people this is going to sound like a weird concept — ‘Aren’t you just encouraging them to use drugs?'” he said. “But I think it’s more possible now than at any time in our history. The opioid epidemic is affecting more people and we know we can’t wait any longer for the federal government to do something.”
The plan faces legal hurdles in New York’s legislature, where heroin use has not been deemed a state health crisis yet. These types of facilities are already in use in Canada, Europe and Australia, according to the AP, so there is precedent for the approach.
Read more about Myrick’s background, how he came up with the idea and the opposition he faces here.
Nearly a decade ago, a nurse at Lawnwood Medical Center and Heart Institute in Fort Pierce came forward with a startling claim: doctors at the hospital were performing unnecessary heart surgeries to pad hospital profits.
The nurse was told his services were no longer required, but he continued up the chain of the nation’s largest hospital chain, HCA Inc., with his complaint.
And indeed, HCA determined in 2010 that about 1,200 surgeries were performed on patients who did not have serious heart disease at Lawnwood and other Florida HCA hospitals, according to internal documents from the company obtained by The New York Times.
But the doctor that sparked nurse C.T. Tomlison’s alert to HCA never lost privileges at Lawnwood, and now a new lawsuit claims he continued to do unnecessary surgeries.
The medical negligence complaint filed this week in St. Lucie County says Dr. Abdul Shadani placed an unnecessary pacemaker in retiree John Austgen in 2013.
The severe complications that followed transformed the 73-year-old from a senior who played tennis three times a week to a man who can barely muster enough energy to watch television.
“I went in as a well man. I came out as an old man,” he said at a news conference in West Palm Beach. “I was a runner. I’m having trouble walking.”
Austgen ended up suffering through several surgeries and a lengthy hospital stay. At one point, his heart was punctured and at another time it stopped all together and he had to be resuscitated. You can read his lawsuit by clicking here.
The hospital billed more than $400,000, Austgen’s West Palm Beach attorneys – Jason Weisser and Michael Baxter – said at a news conference on Wednesday. They said HCA doctors are still performing unnecessary surgeries for financial gain, calling it a systematic problem with the hospital chain. The lawyers say they are working on other cases similar to Austgen’s.
“Lawnwood generates 35 percent of their gross revenue just from its cardiac unit. It’s a huge revenue generator for the hospital,” Weisser said. “I think the financial gain of the doctor and the hospital came before the patient’s care.”
Lawnwood spokeswoman Ronda Wilburn emailed a statement to The Palm Beach Post saying the hospital was aware of the lawsuit: “We dispute these allegations, and we intend to vigorously defend the suit. At Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute, we remain focused on providing the best possible medical care to our patients.”
Shadani’s attorney did not return an email and phone call for comment.
The nurse said he witnessed Dr. Shadani perform unnecessary surgeries back in 2008, according to the internal documents.
Austgen ended up in Shadani’s care after complaining of dizzy spells. The doctor diagnosed him with a complete “heart block” and in need of an emergency pacemaker, according to the lawsuit.
Weisser and Baxter say their research shows that there was only a minor blockage that could have been treated with medication. Austgen said he has since learned his dizziness was due to low blood pressure.
Austgen said his mother, sister and daughter are nurses and that he has respect for hospitals and doctors, but he hopes his lawsuit will keep Shadani from practicing.
The New York Times reported in 2012 that the Justice Department was investigating whether cardiologists at HCA hospitals in Florida performed unnecessary – and sometimes dangerous – procedures.
It is unknown whatever happened to that investigation but Weisser said HCA has failed to live up to its promises to address the systematic problem that was identified not only at Lawnwood, but at HCA hospitals in Tampa and Miami Beach.
HCA owns about 160 hospitals – including JFK Medical Center in Atlantis and Palms West Medical Center near Wellington.
Weisser said that the fact that Shadani was still on staff at Lawnwood one year after the New York Times article that shows that HCA never intended to stop such erroneous procedures. “Obviously, they don’t care,” the attorney said.