In 2004, dementia sufferer Stowman Cox wandered from the Beckett Lake Lodge in Clearwater. His body was later found face-down in a lake, torn apart by alligators. (Photo Courtesy of the Miami Herald)]. An investigation by the Miami Herald into conditions at dozens of assisted living facilities has prompted a crackdown by Florida’s state regulatory agency, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).
“They’re finally doing what they should have been doing,” said Dan Reiter, a state ombudsman.
Over the course of a year, Herald reporters found deplorable instances of abuse and neglect at facilities across the state, including:
- Staff at Miami’s Angelica Gardens locking a 72-year-old resident in a closet without air conditioning
- A 98-year-old Living Legends resident being sent to the hospital with two black eyes, a fractured neck
And many, many more…
“It was almost subhuman,” said Albert “Doc” King, a former resident of Shalom Manor Retirement Home in Lauderhill. King claims that residents were often mistreated, and that medicine frequently disappeared.
In Florida, assisted living facilities (ALFs) commonly admit both the elderly and the mentally ill. The Herald attributes the AHCA’s widespread lack of oversight, in part, to growing numbers of both populations. It also attributes the failure in oversight to low standards required for potential ALF operators.
“To open a home for people with mental illness, administrators need only a high school diploma and four days of training – far less than other major states,” the Herald says.
A third reason could be the scores of new ALFs opening across the state. According to the Herald, more than 550 new homes opened in the past five years, bringing the total number of ALFs to 2,850 in Florida.
After reading the Herald investigation, I find it truly shocking that Florida hasn’t yet overhauled its requirements for ALF operators. Clearly, the lack of knowledge about elder care – combined with purely greedy intentions – has put thousands of residents in grave danger. Despite having some of the toughest elder abuse laws in the country, Florida still has a long way to go before all its residents are safely cared for.
Facilities mentioned in the Herald report include:
All America in Hialeah
Arlington House in Palatka
Angelica Gardens in Miami
Beckett Lake Lodge in Clearwater
Briarwood Manor in Lauderhill
Clare Bridge of West Melbourne
Emeritus at Crossing Pointe in Orlando
Edwinola Retirement Community in Dade City
Escondido Palms in Tampa
Hampton Court in Lauderhill
Hillandale in New Port Richey
Isabel Adult Care III in Miami
Living Legends Retirement Center in Deerfield Beach
Munne Center in Miami
Nueva Vida in Miami
Pleasant Manor in Plant City
Shalom Manor in Lauderhill
Southern Oaks Retirement Center in Wauchula
Sunshine Acres Loving Care in Caryville
Neglected to Death: Part I Miami Herald, May 2011
Neglected to Death: Part II Miami Herald, May 2011