Local

Orange County caretaker never reports patient’s death; takes patient’s sister from another facility

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Channel 9 has uncovered new information about an Orange County woman accused of interfering with the care of a severely disabled 23-year-old woman, who the state previously removed from her group home.

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In late July, a 29-year-old severely disabled woman died at an Orlando home.

According to the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Deborah Hodge was in charge of her care, along with others, the state placed there.

Records show that Hodge never reported the death, which is required by state law.

“I think it all goes down to an issue of do this rise to the level of criminal neglect,” said Matthew Dietz. Dietz has represented people with disabilities for 30 years.

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APD oversees group homes for the severely disabled.

The complaint filed by the APD against Hodge’s group home shows it was only by chance that the agency learned of the woman’s death by an agency coordinator.

Just before the death, Hodge was in the process of trying to get her license renewed.

“The death wasn’t even a big part of the complaint,” Dietz said. “It was basically all of these other violations that led to something like this happening, which probably could have been avoided.”

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An employee with APD visited this home in January as part of that renewal process.

The complaint states Hodge refused to allow an employee to review records and failed to provide proof of financial ability to operate.

The notice of non-compliance was issued, and Hodge submitted two corrective action plans, both were rejected by the state.

The state repeatedly tried to conduct further inspections from February to July, when the 29-year-old woman died, but Hodge wouldn’t allow them to review records.

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“Where is the criminal investigation,” asked Dietz.

Although Hodge didn’t report the 29-year-old’s death to the state, that’s what prompted the state to remove the 29-year-old’s sister from Hodge’s care and suspend the group home license.

After Hodges group home license was suspended, all of the adults were removed from her care, including the 29-year-old’s sister. Months later, Hodges made a plan and succeeded in removing the 29-year-old’s sister from her new facility.

As of now, Hodge is only facing charges for interfering with custody for her role in removing the 29-year-old’s sister from another facility.

According to these state records, the woman who died had no underlying health issues.

Hodge claims the woman died after falling out of bed. As for right now, Hodge is not facing any charges related to the death.

Channel 9 attempted to contact her and her attorney, but neither responded.

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