Florida Keys

Keys elder care facilities were houses of horror, cops say

Raul Tamayo
Raul Tamayo

On Nov. 30, 2016, an elderly woman in her 80s was brought to Mariners Hospital after she had a seizure and her heart stopped.

Medical staff at the Tavernier hospital were appalled by her physical condition.

Regla Alvarez was bleeding, covered in urine and feces, and had severe bed sores indicating abject neglect, according to court documents.

Doctors and nurses at Mariners revived Alvarez, enough so she could be transported to Homestead Hospital.

But it was too late. She died there the next day of septic pneumonia.

Alvarez’s death led investigators with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families to discover two unlicensed elderly care facilities: one in Plantation Key and the other, a trailer in Key Largo. Six patients, all over 80, lived at the two homes.

All the patients were in wheelchairs, had mental disorders and were prescribed either anti-psychotic or ant-anxiety medications. They were all incontinent and required extra skin care and to be frequently turned over so their skin would not blister from exposure to their own waste.

But, worst of all, none of the patients received anywhere near the proper care they needed for their conditions, which require 24-hour attention. Some, like Alvarez, were not being treated at all, according to court documents.

The facilities were operated by Dr. Raul Arcadio Tamayo, 67, who was arrested at his Miami Beach home last June on two counts of aggravated neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult.

Charged with the same crimes was Amarilys Maristan, 49, who was running the facilities on site despite having no medical training, Detective Robert Dosh said in his report. She was arrested in April on a warrant.

Tamayo’s attorney, Sabino Jauregui, did not return a phone message left at his office for comment. Both Tamayo and Maristan have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are out of jail awaiting trial. Tamayo’s and Maristan’s bonds were set at $200,000 and $100,000, respectively. Their next court appearance, a status update, is scheduled for Oct. 30 at the Plantation Key courthouse.

Investigators also said Tamayo was billing Medicare and being paid for services he was not providing. Dosh said that Maristan lied to investigators about the medical care Tamayo was supposed to be rendering to patients.

They were also not giving Alvarez her anti-seizure medication, according to records. The medical examiner’s toxicology report showed the levels of the medication were so low in her body that it was likely the only time she had been given the drug was at Homestead Hospital, right before she died.