• Floridas requirements to run a home for people with mental illnesses are among the lowest in the nation: a high school diploma and 26 hours of training less than the state requirements for barbers, cosmetologists and auctioneers.
• Caretakers are routinely caught intoxicated, asleep and even abandoning their posts entirely often with severe consequences to residents, but rarely to the operators.
Twice, residents at Tampas Escondido Palms were forced to call police when fellow residents were dying one from a drug overdose, after the lone caretaker had locked the office door and fallen asleep.
It wasnt until a third resident died in 2007 after caretakers failed to perform CPR leaving the task to another resident that AHCA asked the facilitys owner to sell the home.
A criminal moves in
When Darryl McGee moved into the Munne Center in 2007, he was supposed to get psychiatric care and medication at the sprawling facility in Miami-Dade.
Instead, caretakers gave him a bed in the homes locked Alzheimers ward with people twice his age and never arranged for care, state reports show.
During the next four months, the burly man with a criminal past became a 214-pound nightmare, beating the elderly residents at least four times before he brutally raped a 71-year-old woman in her bedroom.
The 33-year-old man, diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was like thousands who flooded into ALFs during the past decade a younger generation that would now be housed with older people with dementia.
Though residents who move into the specially licensed facilities are supposed to receive psychiatric intervention and care paid for by state dollars The Herald found that hundreds of homes are failing to provide those critical services.
In at least 555 cases during the past decade, state agents caught homes failing to make sure residents got medications, psychological care and the supervision needed to spot drastic changes in behavior.
One of those was the Munne Center. The facility had been warned in 2006 it was not delivering the services to its residents, but the following year, it was still not complying with the law.
For four months in 2007, McGee terrorized the homes elderly residents during drunken rages, beating elderly men and women.
After citing the home for a host of violations in the aftermath of the rape, inspectors returned months later only to find the Munne Center was still not providing care and treatment.
State agents concluded the home was an unsafe environment to live and eventually slapped it with a $19,000 fine later reducing it to $2,000. Then in 2010, it happened again: AHCA found the home had placed another resident with severe mental illness in the Alzheimers ward, leading to an assault on an elderly resident.
They give them chance after chance after chance, said Brian Lee, former head of the state Department of Elder Affairs ombudsman program. Their residents were being abused.
Home administrator Olga Munoz referred questions to Sean Ellsworth, an attorney for the home, who said the facility is now under a microscope and has been inspected frequently.
McGee, who had been arrested 11 times before the rape on charges ranging from simple assault and vandalism to cocaine possession, was found incompetent to stand trial.