05 October 2008

My Niece's Seizure Ordeal

As you may recall, my niece, Jennal, had a stroke when she was two days old resulting in a TBI; she currently is diagnosed with very severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy.

Jennal has been attending the John A. Coleman School & Children's Rehabilitation Center in Westchester County, New York. Over the past month (since the new school year has started), the school has been negligent (and in my opinion, grossly negligent) in their care of Jennal by not monitoring her for seizures and by not administering medication to her in a timely manner when she has had a seizure.

The latest incident left Jennal seizing for more than three hours as no one checked on her at the school, resulting in Jennal spending a few days in ICU, on a respirator, at the local children's hospital.

My sister has been advised that it is too early to determine whether or not there has been any permanent damage. Thankfully, Jennal was well enough to be discharged from hospital earlier today, although she remains too weak to walk and is babbling sporadically (I spoke with her on the phone this evening and one of her sentences was something along the lines of "OK house books worm sandwich").

Jennal has attended the John A. Coleman School since she turned one year of age (she turned four years old this past May, 2008) and the school is well-aware of Jennal's special needs and the necessity of constant monitoring, especially during nap times. In addition to having known Jennal since her enrollment there on first birthday, they have been advised, in writing (by Jennal's mother--my sister, Jennifer) of the necessity to constantly monitor her for seizures.

The Coleman School was made especially aware of this after an incident approximately two weeks ago where Jennal had a seizure on the bus (provided by the school and driven by a school employee), and the bus driver did not notice Jennal's unresponsive state. Once arriving at the school and seeing that she was in the middle of a seizure, no one administered Jennal's DIASTAT or Ativan. Rather, my sister had to leave her job in the south Bronx (she, herself, is a schoolteacher in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx) and travel to Valhalla to administer her daughter's medication--something the school should have done. To top it off, my sister is recovering from a double mastectomy performed earlier this year and recently underwent reconstructive surgery.

At the very least, I do not believe that the Coleman school is suitable for Jennal's continued education/treatment there. If you can provide any information about alternate choices for schools in the Westchester/Fairfield County region, or any other assistance (including information on legal/financial assistance), I would greatly appreciate it.