A Destin nursing home must release more than 100 residents by April 25 after state regulators alleged its headquarters put profits above resident care and Florida law.
The state issued an emergency order suspending Destin Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center’s license and took the unusual step of ordering it to fire its residents after finding that the nursing home continued to accept new residents despite not having enough staff to care for them.
“The misplaced weight of financial concerns regarding immediate care for residents and the legal requirements of Florida law must be considered,” said the Assistant Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration. Kimberly R. Smoak written in a April 16 emergency order.
It is not known at press time how many residents have been released. Those familiar with the transfer process told Florida Politics that Medicaid-managed long-term care plans will play a critical role in the transfer process.
Lynn Hearn, an attorney for the state’s long-term care ombudsman program, said he is aware of the situation and that volunteers will be following up to ensure residents who have moved to different facilities are doing well and do not suffer from what is called “transference trauma”.
Florida law requires nursing homes that fail to meet minimum staffing requirements for two consecutive days to impose a moratorium on new admissions on their own.
According to the order, the facility’s senior management had been repeatedly warned about the nursing shortage as well as the center’s requirement to stop accepting new residents, but regulators say the facility disregarded comments.
The AHCA alleges the facility failed to meet staffing requirements on 58 of the 63 days of records it reviewed. During that 63-day period, the facility accepted 57 new residents, none of whom were told of the staffing shortage before becoming residents, according to the state.
“These worries and warnings happened over a long period of time. This is not a case of error or inadvertent omission. The decision not to impose a moratorium on itself was a deliberate decision. Far too many residents were admitted to the facility when a self-imposed moratorium should have been in place. The lack of care these residents received was unwarranted,” reads the emergency order signed by Smoak.
The AHCA inspected the facility on April 10 and, in the emergency order, alleged that “all residents were at immediate risk due to the continuing shortage of certified nurses and nursing assistants.”
AHCA regulators interviewed 19 staff and 12 residents during the investigation. Residents said they were not moved, sat in soiled underwear and were not showered due to inadequate staffing.
It is the second nursing home the state has taken action against in recent days, citing concerns about insufficient nursing staff. The agency issued an emergency order ban a nursing home in Naples from to accept new residents after discovering that more than 10% of its residents had pressure sores.
Florida State Director of AARP Jeff Johnson released a statement thanking the state for taking “swift action to protect the health and safety of these nursing home residents, who were suffering from neglect in these facilities.”
The recent regulatory action by state regulators follows a new law reducing the daily amount of nursing care that nursing homes are required to provide to their residents. Govt. Ron DeSantis recently signed a measure that lowered nursing care requirements from 2.5 hours of direct care to 2 hours.
AARP Florida opposed the changes and urged DeSantis to veto the proposal, which was pushed by the nursing home industry. the A seniors’ advocacy group has warned that reducing the amount of compulsory nursing care will put residents at risk. after it was signed into lawAARP Florida then urged Floridians to avoid nursing facilities.
AARP Florida Associate State Director for Advocacthere Zayne Smith noted that the law was signed into law on April 6 and the lowered nursing standards took effect immediately.
“It’s been less than a month since we told them and here it is black on white”, Smith told Florida Politics, referring to the two recent executive orders.