State suspends Destin nursing home license, orders it to discharge 100-plus residents

The state alleges the understaffed Destin nursing home accepted 57 new residents in 63 days.

A Destin nursing home must discharge more than 100 residents by April 25 after state regulators alleged its corporate office 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 discharge its residents after finding the nursing home continued to accept new residents despite not having adequate staff to care for them.

“The misplaced weight on financial concerns over immediate resident care and the legal requirements of Florida law must be addressed,” Agency for Health Care Administration Deputy Secretary Kimberly R. Smoak wrote in an April 16 emergency order.

It is not clear at press time how many of the residents have been discharged. Those familiar with the transfer process told Florida Politics that Medicaid managed long-term care plans will play an integral role in the transfer process.

Lynn Hearn, an attorney for the state’s long-term care ombudsman program, said it was aware of the situation and volunteers will be following up to ensure residents who have been transferred to different facilities are faring well and not suffering from what’s known as “transfer trauma.”

Florida law requires nursing homes that fail to meet minimum staffing requirements for two consecutive days to self-impose a moratorium on new admissions.  

According to the order, the facility’s corporate management had repeatedly been warned about the nursing staff shortage as well as a requirement that the center stop accepting new residents, but regulators contend the facility did not heed the comments.

AHCA alleges that the facility allegedly failed to meet staffing requirements for 58 of the 63 days of records it reviewed. During that 63-day span, the facility accepted 57 new residents, none of whom were advised about the staffing shortage before becoming a resident, the state alleges.

“These concerns and warnings occurred over a long period of time. This is not a case of inadvertent mistake or oversight. The decision to not self-impose a moratorium was a knowing decision. Far too many residents were admitted to the facility when a self-imposed moratorium should have been in place. The lack of care those residents received was unwarranted,” reads the emergency order signed by Smoak.

AHCA surveyed the facility April 10 and in the emergency order alleged “all of the residents were at immediate risk due to continual short staffing of nurses and certified nurse assistants.”

AHCA regulators interviewed 19 staff members and 12 residents during the survey. Residents said they were not moved, sat in soiled undergarments and were not showered because of inadequate staff.

This is the second nursing home the state has taken action against in recent days, citing concerns with the inadequacy of nursing staff. The agency issued an emergency order banning a Naples nursing home from accepting new residents after discovering more than 10% of its residents had pressure ulcers.

AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson issued 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 comes on the heels of a new law lowering the daily amount of nursing care nursing homes are required to provide to their residents. Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a measure that lowered the nursing 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 advocacy group for seniors warned that reducing the amount of mandated nursing care would put residents in harm’s way. After it was signed into law, AARP Florida then urged Floridians to steer clear of nursing facilities.

AARP Florida Associate State Director for Advocacy Zayne Smith noted the law was signed 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 in black and white,” Smith told Florida Politics, referring to the two recent executive orders.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • Angry Parent

    April 21, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Desantis et al can go after as many public institutions as they wish aka public schools and public nursing homes but I’m not fooled anymore. After listening to the suffering my grandmother endured for two years in a private assisted living facility in Lakewood Ranch, the hitting, the lies they told her, the physical abuse. At least nursing homes have oversight and rules and regulations. Amen. Omnibudsman and dcf failed my grandmother at every turn – during a pandemic and outside the pandemic. I will never get her screams and begging and disappointment and suffering voice out of my head. Not a fool anymore.

  • Angry parent

    April 21, 2022 at 7:19 pm

    My advice is to make sure in your preplanning that you do not want anything to do with private assisted living or private home healthcare or private anything if you should become incapacitated. Even if you are incapacitated unofficially aka not declared by a court, make sure in your medical wishes that you want a public nursing home and that your assets must be drawn down to qualify for public nursing. In the interim, only accept medical treatment at a public hospital. Never, ever, ever private. The data is flawed. The secrecy is real and the trespass power means you will suffer alone at your captors hand aka your trustee lol until you die. No one will be able to protect you or alleviate your suffering. Not the cops, not dcf, not the omnibudsman. And you will die wondering where you went wrong. Here’s a clue – stop believing these news people and aarp and readers digest that private is the way to go. It’s not. There are no rules or standards or regulations and you have less rights than a prisoner in jail. No letters no visitors and maybe maybe an incoming phone call if you are lucky. Also make your hippa info public. All of it including for 50 years after your death. Sunshine is the best disinfectant to the rot in Florida.

  • Comment

    April 21, 2022 at 7:29 pm

    Florida not good retirement good visiting but go back out into safety climinate

  • James Sizemore

    April 21, 2022 at 9:03 pm

    This is a bogus allegation. My wife has never been mistreated in any way here.
    Whatever the Allegations are, they are not as bad as some of the other nursing facilities that they are still keeping open.
    Destin Healthcare Center is the best facility in the area, and in no way a the residents there.

    • Kevin Morris

      April 22, 2022 at 12:06 pm

      James, I am truly happy that your loved one was never mistreated there. However, the allegations are obviously not bogus. There IS a nursing shortage and stories like this will become more commonplace I fear. Also add in that the governor has lowered the nursing requirement numbers and it is going to get much worse before it gets better. I work in this field and it’s not great in some places right now.

  • nameless

    April 21, 2022 at 11:08 pm

    It is wonderful that your wife received great care from the facility, but this is an issue that has exploded within the past two months at this facility. They were not able to keep staff because of how management and corporate staffing treated nurses. The patients were no longer getting the care your wife received. While I am glad you think highly of your wife’s care, we can not diminish the suffering others have gone through at the hands of greedy corporate staff.

  • Edie Simmons

    April 22, 2022 at 4:15 pm

    Amanda Norsen my sister has been living here for 10 years treated like a queen great facility

  • Edie Simmons

    April 22, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    Patients need more than 2 hours add up changing under pants cleaning putting cream on bed sores dressing helping them to bathroom I always had a private caregiver job and it takes about 5 hours of care Ron DeSantis when your disabled hope some one shoves you in room with 2 hours care

  • Sameoldstory

    April 22, 2022 at 4:56 pm

    This sort of negligent dysfunction is not limited to Florida nursing homes. Its just another page in the book of geriatric healthcare throughout America. Nurses across the country are charged with providing 2, 2.5, the number is arbitrary – hours of care per patient per day. That allows for 3 to 4 patients to receive said care and leaves no time for the mountains of paperwork expected to be completed on a daily basis as well. Nurses have charge of wings in facilities which sometimes exceed 50 people. This is not a new issue. It has been an issue for years and is one of the many reasons RNs suffer burnout and alsohow errors occur. Cost of care often exceeds 12,000 per month for a resident. The CNAs aren’t making it. The Nurses aren’t making it. Living conditions are abysmal for most residents and many see their loved ones only once or twice a year. Not because the families aren’t allowed to visit, rather families are busty living their lives and have left their loved ones in nursing homes, or assisted living facilities under the false assumption they are being taken care of. It’s a sad story, but nothing new.

    • Kevin

      April 22, 2022 at 5:12 pm

      It certainly isn’t anything new, but it has gotten a lot worse over the past couple of years. Between COVID burnout, crappy management, increase Nurse to Pt ratios, and now nursing hours per pt being lowered by the governor, Nurses are done!

    • Angry parent

      April 22, 2022 at 6:16 pm

      This comment is not true. In public facilities like nursing homes, the person is free to receive guests like family members unless there is some court order that bars them for actual, real danger to the person. In a private facility, the family and public can be barred by mere trespass by the private facility. I agree however that nurses and caregivers all point to one another in a circular firing squad about how they are “too busy” to care for residents when really they just don’t care and no one is responsible. I urge all who will listen to make sure they choose a public nursing home or allow only public hospitalization in their medical wishes and bar caregivers from choosing private on their behalf. That way there is some hope of seeing real loved ones who wish to visit and some hope of rules and regulations being applied to their situation and some government oversight into their condition. These private assisted living facilities are gilded cess pools as well as those “busy” caregivers who choose them.

      • Kevin

        April 22, 2022 at 6:36 pm

        Were you referring to my response as being not true? If so, please explain exactly which part isn’t. You refer to providers being “too busy” to care for residents. Just exactly what part do you play in the healthcare field? What type facility is it that you work in that gives you such insight? I’ll agree that there are Nurses, CNAs, PCTs, etc that have NO business caring for people. But I will tell you that in my 20 years I have worked with a LOT more that do care! We care that because of staffing issues, because of management failing to retain employees, because of ridiculously low mandated Pt ratios that we are unable to give EVERY patient the complete care that they deserve! MANY of us go home every night wishing that we could have done more and hating that we know we didn’t. Can’t stay late…NO overtime. Can’t come in early NO overtime. But make Damn sure you do EVERYTHING that is required of you to take care of your 20-50 patients. Make sure you get 10-12 hours of work done in less than 8. Before you make accusations of healthcare providers being “too busy” to care, know what you are talking about!

        • Angry parent

          April 22, 2022 at 7:54 pm

          This whole conversation is exactly proving my point. If you make an advanced directive first making all your medical records and conditions a matter of public record available to anyone who asks for them and for 50 years after your death, no private facility will take you because they operate in secrecy and when you complain they gaslight their victims aka patients. That way if God should ever grace you with a personal injury attorney or a caring loved one shows up there are no barriers to getting the appropriate information about your care. The second step is to make sure in your advanced wishes that you do not want any private care only public care. All these aarp, readers digest and advertising for for hire care and placement, “news” articles and experts like lawyers, nurses, cops doctors and judges, they all have their hands in a multi billion dollar industry designed to deprive you of your liberty, your money, your dignity and your life. Protect yourself before it is too late.

  • Angry parent

    April 22, 2022 at 7:00 pm

    Kevin it is called an embedded thread. The comment was in response to sameoldstory but I will respond to your most recent comment by saying I’m tired of the excuses about credentials and years of experience and management and low pay yada yada yada. My experience is that my loved one suffered for two years in a private assisted living facility in Lakewood ranch with a gilded foyer while her one granddaughter brought a lawyer “boyfriend” to Christmas one year and she failed to inquire as to his name or his specialty and he turned out to be an estate and trust lawyer. Her husband died and she was tricked by the lure of ice cream with “loved ones”into visiting this assisted living facility. She objected to the visit so vigorously that she was hit by the other granddaughter. She was placed into the facility anyway after numerous doctor shopping by her caregiver. She was barred from seeing her other daughter and granddaughter by nurses and cops with her best interest at heart by private trespass. And her moans and anger and complaints went on by phone for two years. The birthday before her death she was disappointed that she couldn’t see her child or grandchild. She complained until the end about how poorly “they” treat old people. “They” constantly lied to her about where she was and what was going on and took pictures of her for their Facebook media doing various “enrichment” activities while never allowing her to see the relatives she wanted to see. She spent three weeks without being able to be contacted by phone before a welfare check finally got some movement for her care. Nothing you say about how hardworking or committed you and your colleges are about patient care will convince me to believe you over her own words.

    • Kevin

      April 22, 2022 at 7:56 pm

      I am truly very sorry about your loved one. That is a horrible story and no one should suffer through that. You were dealing with pure evil and crooks at that facility. That however, does not change the fact that corporations and politicians are ruining healthcare. Period. You can disagree with pay, nurse/Pt ratios, and corrupt management all you’d like but it doesn’t change the fact that it is the PRIMARY reason that healthcare is where it is today.
      I do wonder though, if the facility you dealt with was so horrible, why was she there over two years? One phone call to an Ombudsman or one call to the State board would have had them shut down if all the accusations were true. One call to an Elder Attorney would’ve had her out of there quickly if the accusations were true. Until families, I’m not saying yours didn’t, start taking responsibility for the management of their loved one’s healthcare and being an advocate for them, predators and crooks like that will always be.

      • Angry parent

        April 23, 2022 at 10:04 am

        Of course you question my story. Elder attorneys cost $350 per half hour. The facility had ample notice before dcf arrived. The welfare check was a surprise however and they gave her 30 days notice after that because of course they are private. It doesn’t matter for her. She is dead. “Turned for her comfort” by hospice during the active dying process. My point is to warn others to choose public and to make their hippa public. No amount of preplanning documents will protect you from an industry shrouded in secrecy and gaslighting and money. Best wishes and blessings to the public who hears me and reconsiders these common narratives about how bad public nursing homes are, how skewed the data is about how private facilities are better for longevity and how they want their final days to be. Sure she survived 2 years in that facility. But how were those two years in captivity? Had she been given complete information about her rights to access visitation with family or oversight from loved ones would she have chosen that again? I don’t know that she would have. She was tricked by ice cream and all that glitters. She shook with anger at her caregiver who restricted her visits with family. I’m not disagreeing that professionals are underpaid and/or over managed and worked. I am urging a review of the private facility narrative, the urging of secrecy in final wishes and advocating for a return to supporting and funding and choosing public health care over private.

Comments are closed.


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