Inequality in Healthcare for Persons with Disabilities

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This week and in the next few weeks, I will be sharing essays that were written for a leadership program local to where I am. These are big issues for people with disabilities and there are not isolated locally. Please go to Facebook where I sat on a panel to discuss disability issues for politicians.


Access to quality healthcare is part of the Healthcare Committees top priorities and is a concern in this community. I work in a unique subset in this community including adults with developmental disabilities. Having an older brother with Autism that may have to join me here, I have huge concerns including the quality of healthcare being provided. 

​I would like to share examples of what my own personal clients have endured in the healthcare system here. Because of confidentiality, I will not use names. One client went into one of the local hospitals and was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. They may have had that but we don’t spend 2 weeks in a hospital for that. When they were released, they were sent home now in a wheelchair. This was a person who walked/run prior to their admission. The therapy team documented this client refused services. This is an individual that has an intellectual disability and has some language skills. This individual can be difficult at times but the teams didn’t try based on reports I received.

​Another client was sent to the ER 3 times. Also, has an intellectual disability and under stress, limited language. This person was improperly diagnosed 2 times before someone caught the fact he had scabies. Now, we have infected multiple adults with developmental disabilities and they staff who work with this individual as well as their families. Had this been properly diagnosed the first time, it would have saved 2 unnecessary ER visits, multiple other clients ER visits, and staff having to be out of work. Most of these individuals are on some form of Medicaid and you can see what it cost to tax payers. 

​My recommendations for resolving this issue is quite simple. Education and training with all medical professionals on intellectual disabilities as well as preventative programs. People do not know what they do not know. Clearly, this would save money in the long run with improper diagnosing and lengthy hospital stays. This is a very personal subject for me and I have many more examples of these kind of issues. All staff need training from administration, direct care staff (RN, CAN, therapies), as well as environmental services. 

There was a grant awarded to the state from CDC to keep people with disabilities moving in hopes to prevent hospitalizations. When I finally got someone on the phone in Tallahassee, there were using these funds for education purposes but not to the right people. I love that money is finally being put toward prevention but no money was allotted to the programs actually doing the work. Adapted recreation is available all over the county from Special Olympics, adapted scuba diving, adapted swim instruction, Miracle League, myself, and many others. There are adapted playgrounds that will be built in Manatee County and this will help as well. More funding for preventive measures going toward programming and not just education will also prevent hospitalizations.

To find out more information about Cheryl, have her speak, or you are in government that have questions, please email

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