The state of Florida, following a final order issued on the recommendation of an administrative law judge, is closing a South Florida assisted living home after inspectors uncovered abysmal conditions unfit for habitation.
The News-Press in Fort Myers reports there were dirty diapers flung over the bushes in the gardens. There were pipes that were leaking and ceiling tiles were crumbling. Feces was found on the walls, on the floors and even in residents’ shoes. Those were only some of the allegations cited in state inspectors’ reports of the 110-bed assisted living facility on the Gulf Coast.
Investigators with the Agency for Health Care Administration went to the facility approximately 17 times over the course of little more than a year to follow up on these conditions, starting in October 2015. Inspections and surveys revealed residents were not safe, their conditions unsanitary. The facility administrators had been advised of the findings and instructed to immediately clean the facility and start taking better care of residents. However, these conditions persisted with each follow up visit.
Three months ago, an administrative law judge recommended shuttering the facility. The final issue was ordered by the state in November and the facility was given one month to comply and find alternative housing for residents. In her recommendation, the administrative law judge described the photographs of the facility as revealing living conditions that were “appalling.”
The facility is a for-profit chain facility, with nine others around the state, though its headquartered in Hollywood, FL.
The newspaper interviewed a licensed practical nurse, who told the facility that she noticed, while visiting hospice patients there, that the patients weren’t clean or shaven and overall conditions were “horrible.” The majority of those living at the site were Medicaid recipients, meaning they were low-income senior citizens and those with disabilities. In other words, these were people who did not have other options in terms of where they could go.
Assisted living facilities are similar to nursing homes, though they do not provide as much intensive care. The facility accepted state funds in exchange for the promise to provide residents (with inability to live independently and limited needs for nursing care) with quality care. It’s because the facility was receiving government money that the government has a say.
Further, it appears this facility is not an outlier for this particular chain. State records show the Agency for Health Care Administration has lodged a total of eight complaints against the assisted living center chain just in the last two years – and the current owner has only had the license for the last three years.
Some family members say that while it had been horrible at the Fort Myers site in recent years (with the overpowering stench of urine apparent as soon as one entered), conditions had been improving somewhat.
However, these facilities are not running a charity. They are making millions of dollars from the government, and the poor care is almost always directly a result of inadequate staffing levels and/ or inadequate training. When workers have the support and training and tools they need, this kind of nursing home neglect is far less of a pervasive problem.
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Fort Myers assisted living facility closed due to dirty and dangerous living conditions, Dec. 1, 2017, By Melanie Payne, The News-Press
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