2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Beth Karpiak

Beth Karpiak

Name of Host Organization: Equip for Equality
City, State: Chicago, Illinois
Issue area: Disability Rights
Sponsors: Walgreens; Greenberg Traurig, LLP

The Project

Beth provided outreach and advocacy to veterans and athletes with traumatic brain injuries to ensure that this growing population is free from abuse and neglect, and that the rights of individuals with traumatic brain injuries are protected.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
About 5.3 million people in the United States are living with a disabil¬ity related to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Recently, the Centers for Disease Control has identified the emergence of TBIs in large numbers among veterans and athletes. The effects of TBIs often manifest in behaviors that prompt others to respond with undue physical force or inappropriate medication, and to question a person’s ability to honestly report incidents of abuse and neglect. Thus, as these individuals face the physical and mental challenges of recovery, they become highly susceptible to victimization. This project will implement a comprehensive strategy to provide education and advocacy services to these growing and underserved populations, and will ensure that people with TBIs can return to successful, independent lives in their communities.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During her Fellowship, Beth has:
• Conducted trainings and outreach events for service providers and more than 1,000 individuals with brain injuries on legal rights in the areas of safety from abuse and neglect, financial exploitation, and self- advocacy
• Provided referral information, self-advocacy assistance, advice and legal representation to more than 150 individuals
• Monitored long-term care facilities serving individuals with brain injuries, including Veterans nursing homes, for patients’ rights violations and systemic safety concerns
• Investigated instances of abuse and neglect at healthcare facilities across the state of Illinois to issue alerts and recommendations that resulted in procedures being implemented to assure that the rights of people with disabilities are respected and enforced

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