One of the largest nursing home chains in Florida – Consulate Health Care – has a long track record of poor patient care, yet has continued to keep its doors open. The Naples Daily News reported this was the same company a jury ordered to pay $348 million in damages to the family of Jacksonville-area man who was allegedly denied critical care services, despite the fact that the government had reimbursed for it. That verdict was later overturned by a federal judge on appeal, who noted nothing the center was accused of had spurred action by regulators with the state or federal government. Prior inspections of the company’s nursing homes haven’t resulted in fines. However, reporters were quick to note that doesn’t automatically translate to the company being free of problems.
Investigators have cited the firm on numerous occasions for abuse, mistreatment and neglect of patients – serious enough that some of them could have technically been shut down, though they never were. In most cases, the company was never even fined.
The regulatory body with oversight, the Agency for Health Care Administration, threatened in January to close more than 50 of the company’s 77 nursing homes throughout Florida. However, a settlement two months ago allowed those centers to keep their doors open, and only eight of those remain under tight state oversight. Only one remains in pending litigation with the regulator.
The USA Today Network delved into problems with this company back in February, shining a spotlight too on the fact that even the worst nursing homes with long histories of safety and health violations were allowed to stay open. Some of those violations included more than a month span where patients with diabetes went without routine blood sugar tests and another case wherein a patient in a wheelchair was struck by a car.
In the case that led to the nearly $350 million verdict, the 45-year-old patient had been robbed of his independence after a 2010 violent robbery in which his pelvis and right leg were broken. The state paid the company a flat rate to provide care for the man – including physical therapy – but the center continually denied him that therapy, saying his insurance would not cover it. It wasn’t until a nurse whistleblower came forward that this issue came to light. The man died three years later, one year after he’d been discharged from the nursing home. Without physical therapy, he was unable to find a job. He ultimately died of accidental drug overdose. His family argued therapy and proper care from the nursing home could have saved his life.
The company reportedly profited $1.7 billion in operating revenue in a single recent year – reflecting what our Orlando nursing home abuse attorneys recognize as a growing trend within the nursing home industry, one wherein huge corporations generate profits for high-income investors. A social sciences and behavior expert cited by the newspaper compared these nursing homes to the banks prior to 2008 – “Too big to fail.” Any action taken against the corporation has the potential to impact a substantial number of those who are in nursing homes.
Other patients, such as a 52-year-old woman from Cape Coral, explained her stay in a Consulate-owned nursing home in North Fort Myers as nightmarish. The AHCA has cited the facility in the past for poor sanitation (including rooms that were infested with roaches and smelled of urine).
Between 2011 and 2017, Consulate’s nursing homes were cited by the AHCA more than 150 times – nearly a third of those for lacking adequate nursing staff to provide sufficient care. In 18 of those instances, violations alleged mistreatment or neglect of patients. One case involved failure to initiate needed dental care for a woman with no teeth or dentures. In another case, it involved staffers who failed to supervise a man with dementia who wandered from the facility and was struck by a car. Another woman, who was confined to a wheelchair, was not moved for nearly a week because her wheelchair had been stored in an outdoor shed.
Consulate was founded only in 2006, but now owns and operates 1 in 9 nursing homes statewide, existing in 32 counties and every major metro area. It’s headquartered in Maitland, just outside of Orlando. Nationally, the company owns 210 nursing homes in 21 states, overseeing the care of more than 22,000 patients.
Accountability in nursing home litigation requires a legal team not only with skill and experience, but the resources to go up against a large corporation like Consulate.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Neglected: Florida’s largest nursing home chain survives despite legacy of poor patient care, May 31, 2018, By Ryan Mills and Melanie Payne, Naples Daily News
More Blog Entries:
Liability in Florida Nursing Home Wandering Cases, May 22, 2018, Orlando Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog