Mccooey & Feeney Now Targeting Children

If you’re looking for integrity and honesty in business leadership you’d be well advised to avoid the likes of John Mccooey and Timothy J. Feeney. If you’re looking for honesty and integrity in healthcare, healthcare for your children, then, when it comes to Feeney and Mccooey you might want to crawl under a rock. Wait, better not. Under a rock is exactly where you’re likely to find Mccooey and Feeney. They head-up an Albany-based company called  OB2L (Overcoming Barriers to Learning) .

Readers of this blog know that in 2008 this writer revealed that Timothy J. Feeney had for years misrepresented his education credentials to all comers. While Feeney has a legitimate bachelor’s degree, his so-called masters and PhD were issued by a now defunct diploma mill called Greenwich University that operated on Norfolk island off the coast of Australia before closing its doors. GU was a non-accredited diploma mill whose degrees have never been recognized as valid anywhere on planet earth. The Australian government issued an alert about GU.

None of this has stopped Mccooey and Feeney from joining forces and targeting children with disabilities on a website that lists Feeney as Timothy J. Feeney, PhD. Both Mccooey and Feeney know this claim is untrue but that hasn’t stopped them from targeting children with autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse issues, mental illness, ADHD and reactive attachment disorder.

What’s equally curious and deeply disturbing is the website’s claim that this company has worked with 130 school districts around the world.

Will they get away with it? We’ll see. New York State only offers title protection, meaning one can’t claim to be a social worker, doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist without the necessary degrees from accredited institutions. My guess is the Feeney-Mccooey duo is trying to thread the needle by saying the former has a PhD. We’ll see how far it gets them.

One last note. When I met Mccooey in 2001 he told me that at one time in his life he was thinking of becoming a monk. I suspect there are at least two reasons he did not pursue this.  You can’t live a life revolving around making money and shoring up a fragile ego as a monk and, in order to be a monk, you have to be in possession of a conscience.

NYS DOH ends contract with Feeney

It seems the efforts of this pen, the Kahrmann Advocacy Coalition, and others have finally paid off. Sources say the NYS Department of Health has cancelled its contract with Timothy J. Feeney et al effective the end of this month.

This writer revealed in 2008 that Mr. Feeney  misrepresents his educational credentials. He claims to have a valid masters degree and PhD when he has neither. Over the past three years this writer along with other real advocates – not the lip-service advocates in the state who seek headlines based on words not actions – have worked hard to have Mr. Feeney removed from his post in the Statewide Neurobehavioral Project, a group that was affiliated with the state’s Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver. Sources say the DOH has terminated the contract in its entirety.

Those who know me well, I mean really know me well, know I take no pleasure in Mr. Feeney’s demise nor in the demise of the other staff that worked in the project. However, like all of us, they are accountable for their choices. I am, however, very glad that survivors of brain injuries on the TBI Waiver, their families, and the many truly good providers of waiver services will no longer have to deal with Mr. Feeney. Life with brain damage is tough enough, dealing with dishonest people at the same time you are trying to learn how to manage life makes it all the tougher.

I have little doubt Mr. Feeney will continue to misrepresent himself in any venue he can. Hopefully others will be pick up where the DOH  left off and require he be honest or remove him from the field.

The NYS DOH has very little to be proud of when it comes to its oversight of the TBI Waiver; however, it can be proud of the decision to end the contract.

Next Book: Brain Injury

Since I suffered my brain injury in 1984 when I was shot and since I began working in the field of brain injury in 1995 I’ve witnessed the presence of the heartfelt commitment of the extraordinary among us as well as the presence of the greedy, self-serving, narcissistic and dictatorial.  I’ve written pages of notes about my experience and with the end of the memoir now in site, one of my next writing projects will be a tell-the-truth book about my experience in the world of brain injury.

Some will be pleased, some won’t. Some will be surprised, some won’t.  Some will be happy, some will be angry. Some will agree, some will disagree. How do I feel about all this? I don’t much care. My responsibility is to be honest and tell the truth to the best of my ability.

One of the things I will write about is what one might call the non-profit myth. The notion that if an agency, company or advocacy group is non-profit it means it really cares. Not so. To be sure, there indeed are terrific non-profits  like the Rochester-based CDR (Center for Disability Rights) headed up by Bruce Darling. CDR is all one could possibly hope for in a non-profit as both a service provider and  advocacy organization.

However, I’ve seen individuals in leadership positions in non-profit settings that are all about themselves. They  have arrived at the rather stupefying notion that the world revolves around them. They lay claim to the advocacy mantle when in truth they offer only lip service and consider their environments to be little more than petri dishes in which they can grow the bacteria necessary to further their self-aggrandizement. As a result, when it comes time to leap into the advocacy trenches and have at it, they are nowhere to be seen. Brain injury survivors and their loved ones along with quite a few healthcare providers know who stepped up to the plate and who didn’t when the New York State Department of Health decided to bring Timothy J. Feeney of bogus-college-degrees fame back into the fold. Brain injury survivors and their loved ones along with quite a few healthcare providers know who spoke up and who remained silent when the state’s DOH began to tell waiver providers they cannot support brain injury survivors at Medicaid Fair Hearings.

No organization of any kind, for-profit or non-profit, ought to be about or solely reliant on only one person or a handful of people.

I will also write about the for-profit myth, the myth that says anything that is for-profit is greed based. While this is often true, there are times it’s not. Until recently, Cortland, New York’s CCRP (Cortland Community Re-Entry Program), a for-profit that operated under the oftentimes problematic umbrella of Healthcare Associates, was one of the best if not the best Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver program in the entire state. The program crumbled when, after the untimely and tragic death of the head of Healthcare Associates, Anthony Salerno,  the running of the organization fell into disarray and CCRP fell apart, but not because it was a for-profit.

I may well write more about this upcoming writing project, but this is enough for now. Stay tuned.


The Danger of Silence

There is little doubt silence has played a significant role in enabling the the denial of civil rights to, not just brain injury survivors, but all people with disabilities.

Rarely does main stream media so much as lift its pen to speak out on the dysfunction and, yes, moral corruption, that, to focus on the group I currently pay closest attention to, people who live with brain injuries.

The troubling silence of the main stream media is, sadly, not surprising, and perhaps that will change in the near future. What is far more troubling is the number of voices from within the world of brain injury that remain unheard. Voices on both the advocacy and provider front.

Yes, there are survivors and family members who remain silent, but I can tell you their silence is, more often than not, driven by fear of very real threats.

And the excuses for the silence boggle the mind! Take the fact Timothy J. Feeney continues to misrepresent his credentials to brain injury survivors, children with disabilities, their families and more. Someone I like and respect recently said, while referencing the contract the New York State’s Department of Health essentially handed Feeney despite knowing of his deceit, “Well the contract doesn’t require” he have a masters degree and PhD, as if somehow this fact negates the need for any advocate or advocacy group worth an iota of merit to confront that fact the man misrepresents himself to vulnerable human beings.

Then, of course, you have the NY State Department of Health who has not only handed the reins back to Feeney but has taken steps to undermine the rights of brain injury survivors in Medicaid Fair Hearings has been met with silence in some advocacy quarters as well.

There is no excuse for silence when people are being denied their civil rights. My patience with some who remain silent is beginning to run out.


The TBI Waiver: It’s All About Money….Duh

Most of us grew up hearing the phrase actions speak louder than words. It’s true. But then I suspect you knew that already.

And so it is with the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver. Actions speak louder than words. And the actions say the concern on the part of state’s DOH is money, not the nearly 3,000 human beings living with brain injuries currently on the waiver.

If you talk to people in New York State’s Department of Health they will tell you how they care about brain injury survivors and how the waiver is the best in the country (if this latter point is true God help those on the other waivers). During a recent meeting Carla Williams praised the quality of the waiver with a kind of manic vehemence. Ms. Williams is the DOH’s deputy director in the Office of Long Term Care. Ms. Williams was also the one who voiced the smile-producing and not particularly prescient complaint that the content of this blog is my interpretation of things (Note: I am proud to say I successfully resisted the temptation to ask her exactly whose interpretation she’d have me use).

Very few people and very few systems, if any, are all one thing. The DOH officials who formerly oversaw the waiver, Patricia Gumson and Bruce Rosen, the former retired, the latter reassigned, certainly had their issues. All indications are they both knew Timothy J. Feeney’s educational credentials were bogus and they were, upon reflection, rather cliquish in the way they sailed the ship, insular too. And they are and deserve to be held accountable for all this. However, in all my interactions with the two over the years both gave a genuine damn about the brain injury survivors on the waiver. And, if you asked them questions, they answered you. Not like the current crop who hide behind the walls of silence and cower under the cloak of non-responsiveness.

As for the assertion its about money not about people just watch the bouncing ball, the way brain injury survivors are actually treated, you tell me. Survivors across the state are having their services cut and in far too many cases are being disenrolled from the waiver altogether.

As for the DOH’s genuine commitment to fairness during Medicaid Fair Hearings, a venue in which a participant can challenge a DOH ruling, consider this. Reliable sources say DOH official Maribeth Gnozzio, she oversees the RRDSs across the state, instructed said RRDSs in a monthly conference call that those working for waiver providers are to side with the DOH  and against the position of the brain injury survivor at the Fair Hearing. Email requests to Ms. Gnozzio and her colleagues asking for confirmation of this one way or another have, no surprise, gone unanswered.

Think about this, the largest survivor-led coalition of brain injury survivors in the state asks for confirmation and gets ignored. Remember, actions speak louder than words. If they gave a damn about the survivors would they ignore queries from a survivor led coalition? You tell me.

And then, think about the directive. Imagine a brain injury survivor who asks for a fair hearing and deals with expressive aphasia. Expressive aphasia hinders the person’s ability to speak their thoughts (which are as sharp and cohesive as ever) as fluidly as they did before the injury. Talk about stacking the deck against the person with the disability! And, if the survivor loses and the state wins, the state spends less money and the hell with the survivor.

As if all this weren’t enough, consider the structure of the waiver’s complaint line. To file a complaint you must call the Brain Injury Association of NY State. I can tell you from firsthand knowledge you will be treated with kindness, compassion and respect by BIANYS staff. But BIANYS is merely the conduit for the complaint. They write it up and forward it to the DOH. The complaint line protocol (provided at the end of this essay in full) not only fails to provide a timeline in which the DOH must respond to the complainant, it doesn’t require the DOH to respond to the complainant at all!

This, of course, violates the participant’s rights section of the DOH’s own TBI Waiver Manual which reads, in part, that a participant will be “treated as an individual with consideration and respect” and violates the  manual again when it says participants must have their “complaints responded to and be informed of the resolution”.

Like I said, actions speak louder than words.

I filed a handful of complaints this year starting in March. I finally received the following letter from the DOH. It is dated November 5, 2010. It reads as follows.

Dear Mr. Kahrmann:

Please be advised that representatives of the Department of Health (DOH) have completed their investigation into the allegations you presented in your complaints to the Brain Injury Association of New York State (BIANYS) Complaint Line. A review of a series of emails and complaints going back to March 15, 2010 and most recently as August 30,2010 was conducted and a full investigation completed.

Please be assured that these issues have been appropriately addressed with all involved parties and no further investigation on the part of DOH is warranted at this time. DOH considers the investigation to be closed.


Lydia Kosinski

Assistant Director Office of Long Term Care

cc: Mary Ann Anglin, Director

Like I said in the prior blog post. The DOH achieved the remarkable feat of putting words on a page and still the page is blank. Setting aside it took them eight months to respond, the response provides no clarity insofar as the investigation’s findings are concerned, none whatsoever. Would they say there response, as their manual mandates, treated this participant “with consideration and respect” ?

I am not and the Kahrmann Advocacy Coalition is not the only party that gets lip service from the DOH. The state’s Providers Alliance comprised of about forty waiver providers has done yeoman’s work putting together a package of suggestions and, like KAC, has again and again signaled a willingness to sit down and work with all parties.

We all would still sit down and work with the DOH anytime. But there needs to be sincerity on all sides, not just lip service and spin. A place to start might be the TBI Manual. Sources across the state say the DOH is rewriting the TBI Waiver Manual (again it refuses to confirm or deny this). If so, then they would be wise to ask for the input of all parties: brain injury survivors, families, healthcare professionals, the Provider’s Alliance, KAC, BIANYS, the Brain Injury Coalition of Central NY, the CQC and more.

To invite input from all parties would send a clear signal that the DOH is truly working for the benefit of brain injury survivors. To remain insular and wall parties out simply underscores what is becoming increasingly clear to all, it’s only about money. If they really cared, they’d be including all the aforementioned in the manual-writing process because we are the ones who know firsthand the challenges faced by those of us who live life with a brain injury – like me.

As promised:

TBI Complaint Line Protocol – Updated 1/2010

1. BIANYS conducts complaint intake and completes the BIANYS portion of the complaint form.
2. BIANYS emails complaint to DOH TBI Waiver Program.
3. DOH staff emails the complaint intake form to RRDCs. (If determined a Serious Reportable Incident, DOH staff contacts RRDS immediately by phone and check the appropriate SRI box on the form. DOH staff will follow up by emailing the complaint intake form to RRDS.) In those instances where the complaint is directed at the RRDC, DOH assumes responsibility to investigate.
4. RRDC confirms receipt of the complaint with DOH.
5. RRDC staff contacts the participant within two business days that the complaint has been received and investigation is in process.
6. RRDS investigates the complaint and completes the RRDS portion of the complaint form.
7. RRDS returns the completed form back to DOH within 30 days.
8. BIANYS will be notified when the complaint is closed via email.
9. BIANYS will provide DOH a monthly report of complaints.
10. DOH waiver staff meets monthly to review open complaints & discuss
outstanding issues.

Essential Elements of RRDC Investigation

a) Provide a brief description/summary of the complaint.
b) Provide pertinent demographic information of the participant and any other people related to the complaint.
c) Provide a summary of all completed interviews or statements of fact.
d) Provide a summary of documents and any evidence reviewed.
e) Provide a description of your findings and analysis of the event.
f) Describe all corrective actions taken.
g) Describe the current status of the complaint and/or participant and any conclusions indicated by the investigation. The Complaint Form must indicate the final status and disposition of the complaint e.g. allegation/complaint confirmed/substantiated, allegation disconfirmed
h) Complaints are to be maintained in a regional and DOH database and reviewed on an annual basis to establish trends, patterns and systemic issues.