While Florida’s substantial senior population ensures that a high number of nursing homes operate within state lines, many people making decisions about where to place their aging parents are questioning the quality of care many elder loved ones receive in state facilities.
It appears you and others facing similar situations would be wise to question the level of care your loved ones are receiving, however, as the state’s single-largest nursing home operator is again making headlines for providing insufficient patient care. The company, which currently operates 77 nursing homes across Florida, remains in operation despite numerous complaints relating to patient mistreatment and neglect. A jury also determined that the company was falsifying documents and misrepresenting patient care in an effort to secure more money from government programs. While a jury issued a more than $347 million verdict against the company last year, which some believed would force it to shutter, a federal judge later overturned the verdict, allowing the majority of the much-maligned facilities to remain in operation.
The fact that the company’s nursing homes have remained in operation despite repeated reports of health and safety violations is alarming, particularly given the details surrounding some of the complaints. In one company-owned facility, diabetic patients went more than a month without receiving necessary blood sugar tests, and in a separate story, a wheelchair-bound resident was struck by a car. Other issues reported by residents include the presence of roaches in residential homes and poor housekeeping procedures that left patient rooms reeking of urine, among related complaints.
Some safety advocates argue that profits are what drives poor patient care. While Medicaid pays nursing homes a set, per-day rate for each residential recipient, any medical expenses that are more than this set rate end up cutting into a facility’s profits.
Currently, 62 percent of the nursing homes the company operates in Florida have two stars or less on a federal five-star quality scale. However, the business remains open, operating nursing homes in every major Florida metro area and 32 counties across the state.