More than a dozen inspectors, representing state and local agencies, conducted an unusual round of surprise inspections at several Lauderhill assisted living facilities Thursday. Their target: the blighted Cannon Point community, known to many as ALF Row.
On Thursday, inspectors found unsanitary conditions at three of the facilities that house elderly and mental health patients. Among the findings: A live mouse stuck to a glue trap. A drawer lined with mouse droppings. Roaches scurrying around the kitchen.
Orchestrated by the State Attorney Generals Medicaid Fraud Unit, the inspections come two weeks after the Heralds investigative series Neglected to Death detailed sweeping breakdowns in the states oversight of ALFs leaving thousands of people to fend for themselves in dangerous conditions. The Herald found that dozens of people died from abuse and neglect at the hands of caretakers over the past decade, but few were ever held accountable.
They should have been out here a long time ago, said Daniel Reiter, a volunteer inspector with the Florida Department of Elders Affairs Ombudsman Program, which is manned by state certified volunteers. As an ombudsman for the state, Reiter can investigate complaints, but his office has no authority to leverage punishments.
Reiter said different state agencies, such as the Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the states 2,850 ALFs, has the ability to enforce penalties.
These residents are neglected, exploited, abused, locked in, locked out and no one seems to care, Reiter said.
The Attorney Generals office, noting the surprise element of the inspections, declined to comment on what prompted the two-day sweep that continues Friday, or which specific facilities were up for review.
Generally speaking we do not let the facilities know ahead of time that they are going to be the subject of an inspection, said Jennifer Krell Davis, spokeswoman for the State Attorney General Pam Bondis office.
Surprise factor or not, many of the ALFs inspected on Thursday are no stranger to scrutiny from state and city inspectors.
Positioned in the heart of Lauderhill, Cannon Point has the largest concentration of ALFs in the state, drawing police and rescue calls around the clock to respond to emergencies, including fights, mental health breakdowns and drug deals. Since 2005, police and rescue calls to the facility have totaled 13, 250 roughly one call every four hours, according to an analysis of 911 calls.
Early Thursday, at Loving Care of Lauderhill, 5607 NW 27th Court, residents on sat in a gated courtyard smoking cigarettes and lounging, unphased by the fleet of state and Lauderhill police and fire rescue cars pulling up to the facility.
Many welcomed the opportunity to talk to state inspectors, even if their interactions were brief.
Resident Alonza Jones, 47, has lived at the facility since March, and said inspectors asked him how he was feeling and whether he liked the ALFs food.
You would figure if they were with the state they would spend more time with us, Jones said. Maybe they dont want us to get too noisy.
Jones said he had no issues with his treatment at Loving Care, he just wished they organized more activities for the residents.
We get bored, he said between puffs of a cigarette.