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Death of Autistic Girls at Residential Facility has Child Advocate Attorneys Hoping Lessons Will be Learned

September 20th, 2014   No Comments   Uncategorized

For any child advocate or attorney who represents at-risk children facing wrongful death, neglect, physical or sexual abuse or other personal injury, the complaints surrounding Carlton Palms Educational Center in Lake County seemingly are continued cause for alarm.

The July 2013 death of Paige Elizabeth Lunsford, a 14-year-old autistic girl, have state officials looking into Carlton Palms, a residential center for severely disabled children and adults. Officials with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities are calling for the center to stop accepting new patients. APD officials also are calling for the firing of Carlton Palms’ medical director.

The most recent calls stem from the death of Miss Lunsford, who came to the center from South Florida child. Her disability rendered her unable to speak. Soon after her arrival, she began vomiting, which lasted for several days. Her illness was made worse by medical neglect and inadequate supervision, noted the Florida Department of Children and Families.

That Carlton Palms is the largest residential and educational center for severely disabled people licensed in Florida should have given some comfort to family members, child advocates and personal injury attorneys who strive to help the state’s most vulnerable citizens. This reportedly is the second time that APD has requested the facility cease admitting new residents.

Meanwhile, Lake County officials are reviewing Miss Lunsford’s death and child advocates eagerly await further word on the circumstances, and whether they could have been prevented.

Whether for a residential facility, a state agency whose mission it is to protect physically or developmentally disabled children, or the advocates or attorneys who champion their causes and fight for their needs, this must be a learning opportunity. How can we take what happened to Miss Lunsford and make sure it never happens again?

Not admitting new residents is one answer. Curing the cause, to many, is an even better, more lasting solution.

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