Harborchase Assisted Living Facility was the subject of an unannounced survey by the State of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration to determine and observe whether the facility was compliant with Florida’s rules and regulations governing ALF resident treatment, care and safety.
The survey agents made several visits over a few months. The State of Florida determined that Harborchase of Vero Beach LLC, one of many Harborchase facilities listed numerous times for Florida Statute violations, was liable for five Class II sanctions. This resulted in a fine totaling $15,000, plus an additional $500 as legally allowed payment to the state for Florida State’s survey costs. On March 24, 2017, the fine was issued according to law as a sanction against an ALF that fails to comply with Florida’s duty-of-care mandate.
General survey report findings
The evidence gathered in the 43-page findings report cited failures to provide safety and help patients with the activities of daily living. Care plans were not drawn up for seniors with a history of frequent falls at the ALF, and no protocols were developed to prevent future injuries. Approximately six months before the investigation, a patient at risk for falls attempted to climb into a chair in the facility’s beauty salon, where she slipped and fell, breaking her pelvis. She was unattended at the time.
One patient fell on stone flagging outside. No one noticed his absence for several hours, and he sustained a severe sunburn. The employee who found him noted he drifted in and out of consciousness. The aide was not able to help him back inside by herself. After waiting with the patient for an hour, another employee noticed them and helped get the patient to shelter. He was a known fall risk. However, the staff did not devise a plan to prevent him from falling. Numerous patients there had dementia or Alzheimer’s, balance problems and frequent falls.
Summary of non-compliance areas
The most significant concern stemmed from the following issues:
- Poor staff-to-patient ratio, making it difficult for workers to give necessary care.
- Low or no assistance with transfers or walking needed for most of the 60 patients who wandered at will around the facility, out of the nurses’ visual range.
- The facility administrator was not aware of any care plans for the patients and did not know of specific health needs, even though several of those surveyed had a multitude of serious medical issues, both mental and physical, requiring close supervision.
- Survey agents observed shift gaps in patient coverage of up to two hours each day.
One employee was deeply distressed at the insufficient human resources that often left her unable to provide even basic care and safety. She approached the facility administrator several times with her concerns. However, the administrator failed to improve matters. For patients transported to the hospital, doctors notified the facility administration that they needed to provide better care. These are issues that, unfortunately, many ALFs face.
Adult children of patients can help by visiting in-person to check on conditions. If their beloved seniors do not receive adequate care, professionals can step in to help with compensation for lost services and possible failure to provide the necessary care and safety their parents deserve.