At a Miami-Dade assisted living facility, a caretaker left a sick, 72-year-old stroke victim alone without air conditioning, locking the doors in the scorching heat so the man couldnt escape the tiny home.
At a facility in Plant City, caretakers slaughtered goats in the rear of the home to cook meals, scaring the mentally ill residents inside.
In Tampa, 27 people were forced to leave a home after residents were found languishing in filthy rooms infested by German roaches, termites and beg bugs their bodies covered in scabs and welts.
Those homes are among more than two dozen that state agents have targeted in the past three months shutting down the Miami and Tampa facilities in the most sweeping crackdown on assisted living facilities in years.
After failing to clamp down on the states worst homes, regulators have launched investigations into dozens of troubled ALFs, imposing thousands in fines and forcing the closure of eight homes.
So far, regulators have slapped the states harshest penalties on 17 homes banning new residents and slashing Medicaid funding more than triple the number of any other time in the past five years.
From Miami to the Panhandle, nearly 100 residents have been removed from shuttered homes and placed in other ALFs.
"Im in a state of shock because Im so used to living in those rat holes, said Paul Encin, 62, a former resident of a now closed Lauderhill home. "I felt I was trapped there.
The action by the Agency for Health Care Administration was prompted by a Miami Herald investigation in May that showed widespread breakdowns in the states oversight of ALFs, leaving thousands to fend for themselves in dangerous conditions.
To Dan Reiter, a state ombudsman who provides help to seniors in Broward County group homes, the agencys efforts have been needed for years as the number of facilities have boomed across the state.
"Theyre finally doing what they should have been doing," said Reiter, who serves on the ombudsman statewide council. More than a third of the sanctions imposed in the crackdown including cases against four South Florida homes came after regulators found residents in danger.
At one home in Miami-Dade, a volunteer caretaker dead-bolted the door and left a 72-year-old heart patient alone without air conditioning while the caregiver ran errands.
By the time the caretaker returned to Angelica Gardens, William Reed in the final stages of cerebral vascular disease was groaning in pain, soaked in sweat. "Victim complained that his entire body was hurting him, said a state Department of Children & Families report. Staff left me alone, he was quoted by state agents.
A hospice doctor who happened to be visiting the home that day said it was the second time his patient was left alone by caretakers.
Reed was rushed to North Shore Medical Center, where he was treated and later sent to another facility. Four other residents who were not home at the time were transferred to other ALFs on June 28 under state orders.
During the state crackdown, regulators invoked emergency orders several times to protect frail residents sometimes pulling people from troubled homes during surprise visits.
The aging Hilcrest Retirement Residence in St. Petersburg was shut down in May after residents some with severe mental illness were found languishing in filthy rooms, their bodies covered with welts and scabs from bed bugs.