HUDSON — An assisted living facility is under investigation after a man complained about the owner's treatment of his daughter, who he said was asked to give out narcotics even though she wasn't qualified to do so.
David L. Flowers said in a letter to state Rep. Mike Fasano that he filed a complaint with the state after his daughter, Brigitte, was hired July 21 as a certified nursing assistant at Braybrook Assisted Living Facility even though she failed her exam. She did her field work at Braybrook while a student at Pasco-Hernando Community College and had applied to work as a caregiver, which involves being a companion to patients and requires no certification.
Her bosses asked her to dispense narcotics such as oxycodone and Vicodin, he said. When she refused, they sent her to a four-hour course "which they said would suffice" to fulfill the requirement about dispensing drugs, the letter said.
In November, after she had been fingerprinted for a background check, Braybrook cut her hours to zero, the letter said. However, the letter said, owner Eunice Livingston told her she could work at her daughter's facility, Serenity Assisted Living Facility on Matis Road in Hudson, for $4.16 an hour on a 24-hour shift.
"This is not only unethical, but illegal, and an act of retribution for informing them that she thought it was improper for her to be dispensing and administering narcotics," the letter said.
She accepted a position at the Serenity, but declined it after her father said he called Livingston.
"I told her she wasn't going to work for $4.16 an hour," Flowers said.
State rules allow an unlicensed staffer with additional training to help residents take their own medicines, including narcotics, as long as a practitioner has determined they need assistance; and as long as orders are written so that the staffer does not have to exercise any judgment regarding how, when or how much the medicine is taken.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which governs assisted living facilities, nursing homes and hospitals, declined to comment on Flowers' complaint.
But Fasano sent a letter to the agency's chief, Secretary Elizabeth Dudek, saying he understood an investigation is "already under way" and offering any assistance.
An attorney for Braybrook said the facility is cooperating with authorities but declined further comment on the details.
"We're confident it will be resolved without any negative repercussions," said attorney Jeremy T. Simons of New Port Richey.
He described the 27-bed Braybrook as a "family friendly" and "employee friendly" facility that "makes sure it meets and exceeds all the regulations required by governing bodies."
He said Braybrook is in no way connected as a business with the facility owned by Livingston's daughter.
A check of state records showed that Braybrook was fined $1,500 in 2009 for failing to have its menus reviewed annually by a registered dietitian, failing to document that all staffers were free of tuberculosis and failing to show that all direct care staffers had undergone background checks.
In 2010, it was fined $100 for not enrolling in a state-required database, and in 2011 was fined $1,000 after the water was shut off for not paying the bill. An investigation showed the electric bill also was in arrears for $1,659.
In 2011, Braybrook was cited for failing to refund money to the personal representative of a patient who had died eight days after moving there. The state ordered Braybrook to pay $43,064, with half going to the agency and the other half to the representative.
The complaint said the representative, who had paid $15,000 upfront, was owed a nearly $14,355 refund. The law allows the state to collect triple the amount if the payment is not made within 45 days of the patient's death.