Documentary: Abuse and Neglect at Lakeview

Feb 16, 2016

For families all over the country, Lakeview NeuroRehabilitation Center in New Hampshire was a last resort for their loved ones. For the owners, it was a lucrative business. But patients suffered.

Reveal and NHPR unveiled 40 years of alleged abuse and neglect of people with disabilities at specialty rehab centers in multiple states, including Lakeview. The collaboration produced an hour-long audio documentary which took a close look at New Hampshire’s Lakeview, where people with severe disabilities were treated, and detailed that facility’s deep ties to a network of institutions across the U.S.  Our reporting found for-profit neurological rehabilitation centers thriving on public dollars with little oversight.

Jack Rodolico spent a year uncovering far-reaching allegations of patient abuse and fraudulent billing practices at Lakeview  – such as charging Medicaid for changing channels on a TV. Along the way, he encountered a crusading mother who made secret recordings of state regulators in a desperate attempt to get someone to help her daughter, staff who claim they were bullied or ignored when they complained about the dangerous working conditions, and a patient who was a teenager at Lakeview in the mid-90s and still carries psychological scars.

Laura Starecheski’s reporting for Reveal went back decades to look at the corrupt roots of the multibillion dollar brain injury rehabilitation industry in the 1970s and 80s, a nationwide family business run by patriarch Charles Brennick and his relatives – the original founders of Lakeview. Reveal visited Brennick’s son Joseph today, at his complaint-ridden Florida facility, which has weathered scandals, lawsuits and a recent bankruptcy and managed to stay open.

Jack and Laura tell this far-reaching story as a riveting, continuous narrative – from the industry’s corrupt roots in nursing home scandals in the 1960s all the way to Lakeview’s recent closure. The story is told directly by the people most impacted by the scandal – from the companies’ owners to the parents of children who were victimized. The reporting was the first time state officials were held publicly accountable for a startling lack of oversight. Ultimately, those same officials pulled Lakeview’s license and, thus far, have rejected the company’s attempts to reopen in New Hampshire.