9 Investigates: Concerns over state care for disabled residents

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CENTRAL FLORIDA - Last month 9 Investigates exposed a harsh review alleging that state officials warehouse medically-needy children for years at a time.

Now, investigative reporter George Spencer uncovered similar concerns for disabled adults.  And he found a local family who said they are afraid they might lose their loved one.

Kellieann Wallen suffers from severe cerebral palsy.

As soon as three weeks from now her family worries that cuts to her nursing hours will force her to be institutionalized.

"She would not survive. She might last between two days and two weeks, that's it," said Karen Wallen, Kelliann's mother.

WFTV recently uncovered a critical letter from the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that Florida has been "unnecessarily institutionalizing hundreds of children with disabilities in nursing facilities."

The letter said they are "violating their civil rights," for years, in some cases.

Kellieann Wallen isn't a minor, but the criticism resonated with her family.

"When you heard that, did you think 'That's what's happening to me?'" WFTV investigative reporter George Spencer asked Karen Wallen.

"Yes, I did.  That's exactly what they're trying to do to her," said Wallen.

Karen Wallen said her dispute began when she refused a new agreement, which would prohibit her daughter's state-paid nurses from going with the patient outside the home, to swim therapy, to church or any other events out in the community.

She said that would effectively prevent Kellieann from doing any of those things.

That's when Warren got a notice of termination of nursing hours.

Because of the severity of her daughter's disability, Karen Wallen said she worries that the state may require her daughter be sent to a home.

"She will not last.  And I think they know that," Wallen said.

Privacy laws restrict how much the state can reveal about the Wallen's situation.

The state health care agency would only say that "Services are provided in the least restrictive setting as possible."

The state has also contested the findings in that Department of Justice letter, calling them "unfounded."

We do not know how many families have received new care agreements, like the Wallens.

The hearing that the Wallens believe will terminate their nursing hours, and force Kellieann into a home, is set for Oct. 25.