When you face the challenge of a brain injury in life, there are several things you should be able to count, from those who love you and from those whose job it is to help you manage the injury: respect, equality, dignity, honesty and the best treatment available. What you do not deserve is disrespect, condescension, dehumanization, and dishonesty. Tragically, there is far too much of the latter.
Let me say at the outset that there a lot of things my state, New York, has right. It has a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) waiver, a form of medicaid reimbursement that provides services so some with brain injuries can live in the community and, in some instances, return to living in the community. There is no question that more people with brain injuries are living in the community as a result of the waiver.
However, there are problems, and while the problems might understandably call for finger pointing, finger pointing rarely gets us anywhere. The waiver is overseen by the New York State Department of Health. The TBI Waiver manual is a nice document, it says the person with the brain injury is the person who drives their treatment plan, or service plan as it is called in waiver parlance. Sometimes this happens, sometimes it does not. But the waiver is well thought out on this front.
What appears to be lacking in the waiver manual are regulations. There are guidelines for sure, but they are accompanied by a paucity of regulations, and that is troubling.
One thing I am sure of is this. For any therapeutic environment to be as effective as possible, it needs to be an emotionally, spiritually and physically safe place for the person getting the care. Key to this safety is, among other things, honesty. That the people who treat you or influence your treatment or the rules governing your treatment are who they say they are.
One problematic case that does call for finger pointing is the case of Timothy J. Feeney. Feeney has been a contract employee with the NY DOH for on or about 15 years and continues to refer to himself as Dr. Timothy J. Feeney when he is nothing of the sort. By his own admission, both his PhD and his Master’s Degree were obtained from Greenwich University, a non-accredited school that enriches countless diploma mill lists on and, I would imagine, off the web. On a resume of his provided to this writer by the state, Feeney openly lists Greenwich University. Greenwich U was a diploma mill that operated out of California and Hawaii until 1998 when it moved to Norfolk Island off the coast of Australia. It closed its doors and 2003. There is an Australian Government Alert available on the web that makes it clear Greenwich was not a recognized university in that country.
However, do not be quick to villainize the NY DOH in its entirety. Feeney’s contracts, also provided to this writer by the state, do not require he have any degree to head the neurobehavioral project for the DOH. One has to wonder who wrote the contracts? It is, I think, reasonable to assume that there are those in the DOH who are good and honest people who may inherited this hot potato.
The bottom line is this. Learning how to manage daily life when you live with a brain injury is hard enough. It becomes even harder when people aren’t honest with us. Any value they may actually have is entirely undermined once their dishonesty comes to light.