They also discovered a home administrator failed to pass a background screening, but was still allowed to work and was later caught stealing money from a resident.
It wasnt the first time AHCA turned up problems at the Pensacola facility. During the past five years, inspectors found major violations enough to press for a shutdown in 2008 but settlements were later reached letting it stay open. A hearing is set in November on the latest action.
At Mily Home Care in Miami, a caretaker refused to call police after a 59-year-old woman with mental illness said she was raped. Even after inspectors called Miami-Dade detectives, the caretaker continued to let the suspect live there against police orders.
Police ended up dropping the case after the woman refused to testify, and days later, suffered a psychiatric breakdown and was hospitalized. Mily was not allowed to renew its license in August.
In nearly every case of AHCA moving to pull a homes license, inspectors found major violations, including caretakers leaving frail elders in danger.
When relatives of Richard Truax, 86, placed him in European Manor in Port Charlotte early this year, they were told he would get the care and service he needed to live out the rest of his days, reports said.
But caretakers failed to treat the gaping pressure sores that filled his body with deadly toxins.
By the time the onetime county commissioner from Pierce County, Wis., was rushed to the hospital, it was too late: His body was shutting down. Eight days later, he was dead.
Relatives said they were told by an administrator that she was a nurse but investigators later found there were no licensed nurses on staff. A state hearing is set for December.
Time and again, inspectors found dangerous practices and hazards during the clampdown on homes, including Sunshine Acres Loving Care in the Panhandle, where raw sewage was spewing onto the property and residents were forced to shower with contaminated well water. The 54-bed home was shut down in July after a long history of neglect and abuse.
Though AHCA is now trying to revoke dozens of licenses, the cases could drag on for months, causing some elder advocates concern about whether the top regulator will settle cases.
In five homes now being targeted, AHCA had filed notices to strip the homes licenses in prior years, but backed off, letting them keep their doors open.
Lerner-Wren said the agencys history of settlements weakens its efforts to close rogue homes. A strict liability standard without bureaucratic discretion is needed, said Wren, who has long pushed for bad owners to be criminally charged. Theres due process, and then theres enabling a culture of indifference and neglect they have to get tough.
Though AHCA found enough violations to shut down 70 facilities in 2008 and 2009, the agency closed just seven. The Herald also found that in 2009 the same year lawmakers expanded AHCAs power to levy fines the agency could have imposed more than $6 million, but took in just $650,000.
HARD, FAST LINE
In an interview with The Herald last month, AHCA Secretary Elizabeth Dudek said she agreed with a recent legislative study that says her agency should take harsher actions, like suspensions, when it finds egregious abuses. A hard and fast line sometimes might be a good thing, she said.
Last months closing of the Munne Center in Miami-Dade, one of the states most notorious ALFs, came after years of lobbying by ombudsmen who say the state took too long.
We spent years begging AHCA to close it, and what did they do? Nothing, said Don Hering, deputy secretary of the state Department of Elderly Affairs, during a meeting in Miami two weeks ago
Bentley Lipscomb, former secretary of Elder Affairs, said AHCA needs to take a hard line, but in the end, the Legislature needs to accept responsibility.
[The Legislature] needs to establish standards, and they need to make people live up to them, said Lipscomb. In the final analysis, this is laid on their door step.