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Mom Loses Custody, Florida Teen Dies

Mom Loses Custody, Florida Teen Dies

A dedicated Florida mother took care of her disabled daughter for fourteen years, until April 2011, when the state of Florida determined she was too disabled to provide the proper care her daughter needed and ordered the girl to be placed in a nursing home.

Doris Freye last saw her 14-year-old daughter alive on April 26th, strapped to a stretcher in an ambulance on her way to a nursing home in Miami. Florida child welfare authorities felt the 59-year-old woman too disabled herself to take care of Marie, who suffered from cerebral palsy and life-threatening seizures. Freye, a single mother, did suffer from six herniated discs and carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists, but knew she could properly care for her daughter at home as she had been doing for the past fourteen years.

Tragically, according to a Miami Herald investigation, state child welfare authorities ignored the mother's pleas and her daughter was transported to the institution after a lengthy stay at the Tampa General Hospital. Marie arrived dehydrated and not properly medicated, and died alone just twelve hours later of cardiac arrest.

Freye, sobbing, said that she knew the trip would be too much for her daughter to handle, especially since no one accompanied the girl on the trip. She also stated the hospital medical staff did not send a report on Marie's meds or feeding schedule and procedure.

The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that states must support disabled parents by providing reasonable accommodations. Freye received Medicare for Marie's care and also received additional assistance at night in the form of a health aide. It was this night aide who made the call to child welfare authorities that resulted in the removal of Freye's daughter from her home. The aide's report was later discredited.

A Tampa judge had ordered Marie returned to her mother's care, but stated they would need an in-home nurse 24/7. He commended Freye for the excellent care she had given her daughter for fourteen years.

Unfortunately, state health officials refused to pay for the in-home care, even though it would cost less than institutionalizing the teenager. Either poor communication or just ignoring the court order resulted in the disabled girl's transportation to the nursing home.

Tampa General Hospital, in a prepared statement, wrote that the hospital was saddened and surprised by the child's death, and denies violating any court orders or that Marie was underfed or dehydrated while at the hospital.

Tampa General and the nursing home, Florida Club Care Center, were both investigated and found “in immediate jeopardy”, a penalty, according to Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, that carries the highest penalty under the federal survey program.

Freye's lawyer has called this “one of the worst cases I have ever seen,” and is looking into filing a federal lawsuit for violation of Freyre's civil rights by all agencies involved in the child's death. Although the suit Freye's lawyer files will hopefully prevent a similar tragedy of this kind from happening in the future, for Doris Freye, her life which revolved around her daughter, was taken away the day the girl died.