Director of Florida guardianship program steps down

Florida guardian accused of filingĀ DNR orders without permission

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, Associated Press

The director of the Florida guardianship program has stepped down amid fallout after a state guardian was accused of filing "do not resuscitate" orders on behalf of clients without their permission.

Carol Berkowitz, the statewide public guardianship program director, submitted her resignation to the Department of Elder Affairs July 12, according to her resignation letter.

Berkowitz did not say in her letter why she was stepping down. However, her resignation comes after an Orange County judge revoked "do not resuscitate" orders in 98 cases in which the guardian in question, Rebecca Fierle, was found to have "abused her powers" by filing DNR orders on behalf of clients without permission from their families.

Under Florida law, a judge appoints guardians for minors and adults with mental or physical disabilities, allowing them to make financial and medical decisions.

Fierle resigned on Friday and Seminole County Judge John Galluzzo accepted her resignation.

An investigation by the Office of Public and Professional Guardians determined one of Fierle's wards died in a Tampa hospital after staff couldn't perform lifesaving procedures following a "do not resuscitate" order Fierle filed against the ward's wishes.

Records show a guardianship court monitor was appointed this month to investigate claims of abuse.

More than a dozen family members have reached out to News 6 complaining about Fierle's actions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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