TAMPA — With a dismal track record of keeping its residents safe and healthy, Lakeshore Villas Health Care Center has been deemed one of the state's worst nursing homes.
Since 2007, it has racked up a total of nearly $374,000 in state and federal fines for problems that include mishandling a sexual abuse case involving an 83-year-old woman and failing to provide CPR to an 87-year-old man.
Still, the 179-bed facility has remained home to a vulnerable population that includes elderly dementia patients and severely disabled children — until now.
Lakeshore has announced that it will close Aug. 12. The company's decision comes days after federal regulators said they would cut off Medicare payments, a significant source of income for nursing homes. Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program that pays the bill for most patients, also will stop covering care at Lakeshore, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.
The end of government payments was the latest blow. In May, that AHCA informed Lakeshore the state would not renew its license. The nursing home, however, had been allowed to remain open pending an appeal.
Brian Lee, who leads the elder advocacy group Families for Better Care, said Lakeshore has only itself to blame.
"This place should have been closed down years ago," said Lee.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services declined to provide additional details about the government's decision. But since last year, Lakeshore has been on a federal "watch list" of problem nursing homes.
The facility's closure gives the 126 adults and 11 disabled children living there about a month to find new homes. Nursing home officials promised to help in that search.
"Transitioning our residents to other facilities is currently our first priority, and we're working to make the process as seamless as possible," Lakeshore interim administrator Jacqueline Hurt said in a written statement.
Hurt did not return a phone call for additional comments.
Residents and their families should expect the help of state agencies including the AHCA, the Department of Children and Families and the state's elder ombudsman's office. Janegayle Boyd, president of LeadingAge Florida, an industry trade group for nursing homes, said such moves are difficult for all involved.
"The hardest part can be families who get furious when we tell them we are moving patients," said Boyd. "Even when it is a health and safety issue.''
A particular problem will be providing for the 11 disabled children living in the home, Lee said. When Lakeshore closes, only four pediatric nursing homes will remain in the state.
Lakeshore Villas is owned by Tampa-based nonprofit Senior Care Group. According to its 2011 tax forms, Senior Care reported $121 million in revenue but ended up with a $11.9 million deficit. Its chairman, David R. Vaughn, was paid $370,058.
The Inn at Lakeshore, an independent living facility adjacent to the nursing home, will remain open.
State regulators did not renew Lakeshore's license due to "the regulatory history of the facility," according to AHCA spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman. Senior Health appealed the decision.
Lee said appeals can drag on for years, meaning that the federal government's decision to stop paying the home was likely the larger motivation to shut down. Private-pay patients could have remained, but they typically make up a very small portion of nursing home residents.
Since May 2007, the AHCA has fined Lakeshore a total of $81,000 for a variety of serious problems. In April, the state fined Lakeshore $16,000 after a staffer failed to provide CPR on an 87-year-old resident who was mistakenly thought to have a "do not resuscitate" order. The patient died.
Last year, the facility was placed on a federal watch list of problem facilities after state inspectors reported serious problems. One was a 2011 incident in which an 83-year-old female resident was sexually assaulted on multiple occasions by a male resident. That investigation earned Lakeshore a federal fine of nearly $226,000.
Also on the watch list is St. Petersburg's South Heritage Health & Rehabilitation Center. The AHCA is reviewing its license, according to online records.
Times staffer Steve Nohlgren and researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jodie Tillman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3374.