Florida Nursing Home Abuse Mitigated with More Options

March 5, 2012 by Dean H. Freeman

A bill in North Florida that would have tacked on a nursing home to the Jacksonville University geriatric program has been axed by the state legislature.
samaritan.jpg

Proponents had hoped it would give more options to the growing number of patients expected to seek long-term care over the next several decades. It was also hoped that it would be a learning tool for medical students hoping to enter into elderly care.

Those concerned with nursing home abuse in Port St. Lucie and elsewhere throughout the state had hoped the measure would pass. Not only would it have created more opportunities to learn under the supervision of the educational system, it would have created additional options for aging patients.

As our Port St. Lucie nursing abuse attorneys understand, it would have meant a nursing home with 150 new beds for the older population. It may have seemed like a win-win, but already-existing nursing homes were the loudest opponents.

According to Reporter Matt Dixon of The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, at issue was the belief that there is already a glut of nursing homes within the state, and particularly in northern Florida.

One nursing home executive was quoted as saying there are an estimated 9,500 nursing home beds available in District 4 alone. There, he said, there is a nursing home occupancy rate that stands at about 88 percent, meaning there are over 1,000 beds that are vacant nightly.

But lawmakers have disputed these figures. In fact, when individuals had called several nursing homes in the area, claiming to be looking for a bed for a family member, they had been told the occupancy rate was closer to 94 percent and that there would be placed on a 1-year waiting list.

At the heart of this issue is the moratorium that Florida lawmakers placed on new nursing home beds in the state. What this means is that it's not possible for a proposed facility to simply open its doors without approval from the state legislature.

In this case, investors from Ohio had tried to have the Jacksonville City Council make the request, but he was shot down there. That's when this proposal was quietly tacked on last minute to a larger state nursing home reform bill.

The idea of the moratorium is that the state can only afford to fund so many facilities with Medicaid dollars. FL Statute 651.011 to 651.134 governs nursing home establishment and operation.

Initially, this bill was passed 89-23 within the state house last month. But as opposition began to swell amid concerns of those within the nursing home industry, the bill was ultimately pulled, the language that would have allowed this home to be built was stripped.

Our Port St. Lucie nursing home abuse lawyers are not for or against any one facility, but we do favor options. The more choices are offered to those facing the difficult decision of where to place their aging loved ones, the better the competition is and the more likely a relative will be treated above and beyond the minimum standards.

If you suspect your elderly loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home in Port St. Lucie, Margate, West Palm beach or Miami, contact the trial attorneys at Freeman, Mallard, Sharp, & Gonzalez, LLC to discuss your rights. For a free and confidential appointment call toll free at 1-800-561-7777.

Additional Resources:
Florida House passes nursing home bill with program Jacksonville University may not want, By Matt Dixon, The Florida Times-Union


Fort Lauderdale nursing homes falls often a preventable tragedy, Feb. 18, 2011, Port St. Lucie Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog