Feeney Again: Understatements & Reasons

An understatement: New York State brain injury survivors and their families will be up arms if Timothy J. Feeney and his staff have any involvement in the Statewide Neurobehavioral Project; a project designed to help providers of services under the Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver. In fact, if there were an Olympic event for understatements and you uttered the preceding sentence, you might just win gold.

I was asked recently if I knew if a contract had been signed that would bring Feeney back.  While I’ve heard from an array of sources that Feeney and his minions are scampering around claiming they are under contract, I do not think the contract has been signed. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll recall that for 15 years while working under contract with the department of health, Feeney misrepresented his educational credentials to New York State Officials, people with brain injuries of all ages, children with disabilities, educational institutions, and healthcare providers. It may be that he did so in courts as well. An avenue of investigative interest for sure. 

If you think having the bogusness of his credentials exposed in 2008 by this writer dissuaded him from continuing the ruse, you’re wrong. Feeney continued and continues to present himself as having a PhD and a Masters Degree. The truth?  He has neither. Feeney was issued these “degrees” by a business called Greenwich University; a dip0loma mill. “Degrees” from Greenwich are not valid anywhere in the world.

Let me just say that I’ve known people with real doctorates and real masters degrees and my father taught at Columbia University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. People pour their blood, sweat and tears into getting these degrees.

If I am right that the contract has not been signed, I believe there are several reasons for this. Most will not surprise you – one might.

  • First, and likely the least surprising, the whole country is looking to conserve Medicaid dollars to the extreme (keep in mind Feeney was essentially being paid with your tax dollars).
  • Second, everyone knows that allowing Feeney and those linked to Feeney back into the fold would be a clear statement to survivors of brain injuries, their loved ones that they are second rate citizens. Why else anyone allow someone who misrepresents his credentials and those who know this and support him back into the fold? It would be like asking a geologist to oversee neurosurgery across the state (my apologies to the geologists among us).
  • Third, if Feeney were again part of the neurobehavioral project and investigations resulted in criminal and or civil charges against him down the road, how would anyone look if they’d entered into a contract with him, directly or indirectly, having been fully informed of his misrepresentations before doing so?! Wouldn’t any parties falling into this category find themselves on the receiving end of some fairly zealous and plausible litigation?
  • However, there is a fourth reason, and this is the one that might surprise you. While the public at large is quick to condemn government agencies simply because they are government agencies, such condemnations are not always accurate. All indications are that those in the New York State Department of Health genuinely do care about the quality of services being provided to survivors of brain injury in the state. And that is good news for us all.



Could Feeney Be Charged Next?

A special prosecutor has been assigned to pursue charges against Steven B. Feldman, a Saratoga County New York man who, New York State Police say, used his educational credentials from a diploma mill calling itself Hamilton College to get contracts with Saratoga County.

And what, you ask, is Hamilton College? It is a diploma mill just like Greenwich University, the diploma mill Timothy J. Feeney has repeatedly used to land himself three contracts with the New York State Department of Health and, not incidentally, take part in court cases as an expert.  Moreover, one would like to think any party who aided and abetted either Feldman or Feeney in what amounts to nothing more than a con would be criminally charged too.

According to PostStar.Com, Feldman “provided court-ordered (mental health) evaluations without adequate education.” 

In New York’s Washington County, Fort Ann New York School Superintendent Maureen VanBuren and some school board members have been informed about Feeney’s bogus credentials so if they retained their contractual relationship with him as it appears they have, who knows what may be in store for them.

Clinton County District Andrew Wylie, a district attorney from Clinton County will handle the case against Feldman.

The New York State DOH and the Southern Tier Independence Center have been fully informed about Feeney’s false credentials and both parties have received communication from brain injury survivors, family members and, in some cases, providers, asking that Feeney and his staff be stopped.  Some providers have said they will stop providing services if Feeney returns.  If STIC does sign and contract and does  give the work to Feeney, they did it once before, one has to wonder where the long arm of the law will reach next.

And hey, the alphabetical order of Feeney and Feldman is pretty tight. Wouldn’t it be amusing if people were assigned to cell blocks alphabetically? Lord knows the two would have lots to talk about.

Stay tuned.


Feeney Era Ends

Timothy J. Feeney’s reign over the New York Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver has likely come to an end.

Sources say the New York State Department of Health has chosen not to seek proposals for the contract now held, for all intents and purposes, by Timothy J. Feeney. If correct, Mr. Feeney’s contractual relationship with the DOH, which made him the director of a project that was arguably the most powerful influence over the implementation of New York’s Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver, ended on September 30.

While the Feeney era may be over now, there is concern the DOH will send out requests for proposals and the company awarded the contract will turn around and hire Mr. Feeney. This advocate would urge the DOH to send out a request for proposals because Waiver Providers and those receiving services from these providers deserve a highly trained team of experts to turn to for support and guidance. However, this time I would urge the DOH to set a higher bar in its proposal request and make sure that those involved in the project are truly qualified and represent the spectrum of experience best equipped for the job: neuropsychologists, family members, survivors and so on.

For 15 years Mr. Feeney misrepresented his credentials to brain injury survivors, their families and waiver providers. He claimed he had a masters then a PHD  when, in fact, he had neither. In print publications and on the net he falsely refers to himself as Dr. Feeney or Timothy J. Feeney, PhD.  His “degrees” were issued by Greenwich University, a diploma mill that was located in Hawaii and California in the 1990s before moving its operation to Norfolk Island off the coast of Australia in 1998. Greenwich University, not to be confused with the prestigious University of Greenwich in England, graces numerous diploma mill lists on the net. It closed its doors in 2003.

However, even though his false credentials have been thoroughly exposed and documented, it appears shame and conscience have little impact in Mr. Feeney’s decision making. Last week I gave a speech for St. Lawrence NYSARC in Canton, New York (NYSARC, by the way, is one of the shining stars in healthcare from where I sit). My speech was in the morning. Mr. Feeney gave a speech that afternoon. When I opened the program I saw it;  he was listed as Timothy J. Feeney PhD and, in several places was referenced as Dr. Feeney. Some people never learn.

Last week I received two letters pertaining to this situation. One came from the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General. They have referred the Feeney matter to Dr. Richard Daines, the New York State Health Commissioner, for investigation. The second was from New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office. They too are carefully considering the matter.

And the beat goes on.

A NY State Department of Health Cover-up?

A September 16th letter from the New York State Department of Health might lead some to think the DOH has no problem awarding several million dollars to a neurobehavioral project headed by a man who continues to misrepresent his credentials to those he serves. Timothy J. Feeney continues to represent himself as  Dr. Timothy J. Feeney or Timothy J. Feeney PhD when he is no more a doctor than Felix the Cat is.

Feeney presents himself to brain injury survivors and their families as having a PhD and master’s degrees when he doesn’t. He did get bogus degrees from a diploma mill located in Hawaii and California in the 1990s before moving its operation to Norfolk Island off the coast of Australia in 1998. Greenwich University, not to be confused with the prestigious University of Greenwich in England, was a non-accredited diploma mill that graces numerous diploma mill lists on the net. It closed its doors in 2003.

Despite the fact Feeney himself says the DOH new all along about his degrees, he has, for nearly 15 years now,  headed up the Neurobehavioral Resource Project for New York State’s Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver. The NRB is arguably the most powerful influence over the TBI Waiver, a Medicaid program designed to provide services to brain injury survivors across the state.   While there is no argument that the TBI Waiver is needed because it affords many with brain injuries the chance to live in the community, there is also no argument that those who live with brain injuries, their loved ones, and the hard working companies that provide waiver services,  have a right to expect people to be who they say they are.

Letters to DOH employee Patricia Greene-Gumson along with a second letter to Deputy DOH Commissioner Mark Kissinger raising the issue of Feeney’s false claims and calling for an investigation not only into Feeney and his conduct but into who wrote the three contracts that don’t require the head of the project to have so much as a master’s degree. The two letters resulted in the September 16th one-page response from a Lydia Kosinski , Assistant Director for the Division of Home and Community Based Services. In her letter Kosinski says  the DOH was more concerned with work experience than college degrees when it chose the director of the NRP. While Feeney’s resume does not reveal much experience with brain injury in the first place, the question of his misrepresenting himself still lingers and was left untouched in the letter.

While I will try to hold to the belief that the DOH  is not the villain here, the Kosinski letter has begun to loosen my grasp.

One thing is for sure, if Feeney’s contract, which expires the 30th of this month, is renewed, there will be every reason to conclude that the DOH is more supportive of the disingenuous Feeney than it is of those us who live with brain injuries..

It is flat out tragic when you get the message that asking people to be who they say they are is asking too much.


Living With Brain Injury – Part IV: Those Around Us

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.