Brain Injury Patients Sue State of Massachusetts for Lack of Community Care!
By Gerri Elder
Treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become a major concern on Capitol Hill and in the National Football League, and now comes word out of Massachusetts about a class-action lawsuit involving four brain injury patients who are suing the state for a lack of community care.
A May 18th Boston Globe story detailed how these plaintiffs and the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts have filed a class-action lawsuit against Governor Deval Patrick and other state officials for failing to provide community-based care to people with brain injuries.
The class-action lawsuit specifically alleges that the state of Massachusetts is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because it has not funded community-based care and has thus left these brain injury patients with the realistic possibility of being confined to nursing homes for the rest of their lives, which is against the law.
Rather than seeking damages for personal injuries, the class-action lawsuit is asking the state to implement community-based care for all Massachusetts brain injury patients within five years.
54-year-old Catherine Hutchinson is one of the plaintiffs in this Massachusetts class-action suit. She suffered a brain-stem stroke 11 years ago that left her mute and paralyzed from the neck down. The story detailed a written statement from Hutchinson, who said that her life in nursing homes has made her "feel isolated from the real world."
Supporters of Hutchinson and others with brain injuries have cited similar claims that a lack of community care for these patients has left them isolated and cut-off from their families. The story added that these supporters have said that approximately one-fourth of the 8,200 patients with severe brain injuries in Massachusetts have requested community based-care, which would allow them to spend more time with their families without sacrificing access to caregivers.
Massachusetts officials have responded to this class-action lawsuit by declaring its commitment to provide the best possible care for people with brain injuries. These officials added that the state is currently in the middle of implementing new programs that would offer community care options for brain injury patients.
State officials also disputed claims in the story that they have turned a deaf ear to similar requests for community-based care by brain injury patients and supporters in the past.
While representing Hutchinson and three other brain injury patients-Raymond Puchalski, Glen Jones and Nathaniel Wilson-this class-action lawsuit is seeking to represent all brain injury patients in Massachusetts nursing homes. The Boston Globe story detailed that a federal judge will later determine who could participate in this suit, which may take years to litigate.