AHCA finds "serious and immediate threat" at National Deaf Academy following failures in reporting alleged resident abuse

National Deaf Academy was cited during an unannounced complaint survey by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) for deficiencies related to the rights of children – child abuse & neglect, operating standards, and staff training. AHCA revealed that the facility failed to report abuse allegations to the Department of Children and Families placing “residents under a serious and immediate threat.”

Even though the facility’s policy stated “any employee who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect abuse to any resident shall immediately report such knowledge or suspicion to the Florida Abuse Hotline or the Department of Children and Families,” AHCA found that the “facility failed to ensure all allegations of abuse were reported to the Florida Department of Families and Children.” During an interview with a resident, AHCA revealed that a “staff member had threatened to take residents to their rooms if they did not behave and cameras could not see the staff hit or yell at them.” The same resident also told AHCA that “another resident was pulled to her room by the staff person and resident could hear noises but was not sure what the noises meant.” The resident also told AHCA inspectors:

“she witnessed staff kick open a door and staff dragging resident #1 through the door and her face hit the door…[and] she heard staff discuss they won’t report it as resident #1 was self abusive and hits her face anyway.”

The same resident also told AHCA that “staff have been unkind and intimidating to her since she reported the incident.”

AHCA asked the facility for the” internal investigation into the allegation of staff allowing a door to hit resident #1 in the face.” AHCA found “no evidence was presented by the facility that an internal investigation was completed by the facility.” However, AHCA revealed “four documents regarding the incident were found in the binder held together with a paper clip. The top page was a copy of an email from the Resident Advocate, dated 12/16/14 sent to The Administrator, the Quality Manager, the Risk manager, the Director of Nursing and the Staff Director.” The email said resident #5 currently fears that she “will be retaliated against and states that since seeing talking with me this morning it has already started.” Another document was a “diagram of the human body with x’s indicating injuries on the body of resident #1. The document indicated resident #1 had bruising to the forehead, bilateral cheekbones and chin.”

The facility was asked multiple times to provide evidence that this incident and subsequent allegations were reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families, however, no evidence was provided. The Facility Quality Manager confirmed that “the allegations were not reported to Florida’s Department of Children and Families.” AHCA wrote:

“Failure to identify and investigate allegations of abuse place all residents…at risk for further possible abuse as the facility cannot protect residents from that which the facility fails to acknowledge, placing residents under a serious and immediate threat.”

AHCA also cited National Deaf Academy for not providing annual training for staff. Specifically, AHCA “found no evidence 3rd shift Night Supervisor and the Resident Advocate had had abuse training during the last 2 years.” AHCA also revealed “no evidence the Resident Advocate had training in incident reporting since her orientation on 9/6/11.”

The Inspection Report does not include a plan of correction submitted by the facility to address the deficiencies found by AHCA.