Silence from New York’s DOH

A letter to a DOH official asking her to investigate how several million dollars of state taxpayer money has been paid to a project run by New York State contract employee Timothy J. Feeney who does not have the credentials he says he has has been met with silence.

A July 25 letter to Patricia Greene Gumson of the New York State Department Health has gotten no response. The letter, copied to others in and out of the DOH, asked Ms. Gumson to investigate how it was that Timothy J. Feeney received three five-year contracts with the DOH despite the fact he misrepresented his credentials. Was there a vetting process and, if so, what was it? It is critically important for the readers of this blog to avoid villainizing the DOH as a whole. There are quite a few honorable people working there and straightening things out while dealing with the ineffable web of bureaucracy is no easy task.

However, Mr. Feeney himself indicates that some in the DOH knew about the problems with his credentials. According to unsolicited e-mail this year to readers of my blog, some in the DOH knew Mr. Feeney did not have the college degrees he claims to have. In his e-mail, Mr. Feeney said, “The Department of Health, the state office responsible for the Neurobehavioral Resource Project, is well aware of my educational history, the source of my (college) degrees.”

For nearly 15 years now Mr. Feeney has headed up the Neurobehavioral Resource Project for New York State’s Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver. The Project is arguably the most powerful influence on the waiver across the state. There can be no argument  that the TBI Waiver is a blessing to the state and desperately needed as it affords many with brain injuries to live in the community. However, there can also be no argument that survivors of brain injury, their families and other loved ones, along with the hard working companies that provide waiver services across the state have a right to expect people to be who they say they are.

As readers of this blog already know, Mr. Feeney claims to have a PhD and Masters degree when he has neither one. The letter also asked Ms. Gumson to look into how it was that none of the three contracts that some might see as jerry-rigged didn’t require the person heading up the Neurobehavioral Project to even have a master’s degree.

In short, Mr. Feeney’s degrees were received from Greenwich University, a diploma mill located in Hawaii and California in the 1990s before moving its operation to Norfolk Island off the coast of Australia. Degrees from Greenwich have never been recognized as valid in the Australian mainland and have never been recognized as valid anywhere in the United States of America. Greenwich, not to be confused with the prestigious University of Greenwich in England, closed its doors in 2003.

Brain injury survivors, the families and other loved ones as well as waiver providers across the state deserve answers. Here are some but not all the questions that ought to be answered.

How productive has the Neurobehavioral Project been?

  • Are referrals to the project responded to, completed, and followed up in a timely manner?
  • How many admission holds were placed on Waiver Providers across the state at the direction of Mr. Feeney? 
  • How many survivors were tossed off the waiver by Mr. Feeney?
  • What has Mr. Feeney and the Project’s impact been on Medicaid dollars?
  • How many Medicaid dollars were spent based on the reasonable belief that Mr. Feeney was Dr. Feeney?
  • Would any Medicaid dollars been saved had Mr. Feeney not represented himself as Dr. Feeney?

Another letter to a DOH official way up the ladder is on its way and has been copied to a wide range of people. I have faith that the DOH will do the right thing. Mr. Feeney’s contract expires the 30th of this month. Were it to be renewed, or were some maneuver like awarding the contract to a company who would then hand leadership over to Mr. Feeney to happen, more folks would need to be taken to task.

It is hard enough living life with a brain injury, it is hard enough adjusting to the reality that a loved one has a brain injury, and it is no easy task providing quality services to those who live with a brain injury for providers who try to keep their companies afloat despite low reimbursement rates. To manage all these challenges only to find out one of the most influential entities in the state is not who they say they are is not only unjust, it’s immoral.

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