Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Agency moves to close home for mentally ill in St. Petersburg

The closure of Carden House, at 2349 Central Ave., would displace more than 50 residents. Complaints have brought inspectors from the Agency for Health Care Administration here 18 times in two years.


The closure of Carden House, at 2349 Central Ave., would displace more than 50 residents. Complaints have brought inspectors from the Agency for Health Care Administration here 18 times in two years.


The state is trying to shut down Carden House, an assisted-living facility for the mentally ill near downtown.

A six-count complaint filed by the Agency for Health Care Administration, which regulates the state's 36,000 health care facilities, seeks to revoke Carden House's license and impose a $4,500 fine. The complaint cites persistent problems at the 2349 Central Ave. facility, among them unsafe and unsanitary conditions, dilapidated property and furnishings, and failure to provide prescribed therapeutic diets.

In an interview this month, Carden House administrator Haresh "Harry'' Hirani said improvements had been made. A lawyer responded to questions about the AHCA's March 11 legal action.

"We adamantly dispute the charges in the complaint,'' said Cathleen O'Dowd of the Tampa office of Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick. "And we will respond to those charges through the administrative law process.''

Carden House can request a hearing before an administrative law judge. The group home is owned by Shrinathji Inc., which has a Seminole mailing address and bought Carden House for $1.4 million in 2007.

Neighbors have complained about the assisted-living facility, saying residents go through garbage bins, beg for food and money, openly buy drugs and create disturbances. One resident, Bonnie Nix, is familiar in St. Petersburg's downtown, where she wanders begging for money. She was arrested seven times last year and once this year. The charges usually have been for panhandling, but on some occasions for carrying an open container.

Closure of Carden House would displace Nix and more than four dozen other residents.

"We don't want them turned out on the street, but they certainly deserve better than what they are getting there,'' said City Council member Jeff Danner, who represents the district where Carden House is located.

Polly Weaver, chief of the bureau of field operations for the AHCA, said the agency will work with the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Elder Affairs' Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program to find new homes for Carden House residents.

That might not be easy, said April Hill, a board-certified elder law attorney with the Hill Law Group in St. Petersburg.

"Probably right now they are scrambling to find homes for the residents. They try not to displace them too much," Hill said. "But, of course, they've got to find facilities to accept those residents, and those are residents with not a lot of money."

The residents "are not going to do much better, but as they close the door to another substandard facility, they are raising the bar ever so slightly.''

In the past two years, the AHCA has closed three assisted-living facilities in a seven-county jurisdiction stretching from Pasco to Polk to Highlands. One, the Verandah, was in St. Petersburg.

During the same time frame, complaints have brought AHCA inspectors to Carden House 18 times, more than any other facility in the seven-county area.

"Some of our most recent concerns have to do with some dietary issues, outdated food, and there were some issues in the kitchen and the Department of Health was notified,'' Weaver said. "We had some concerns in relationship to medication issues.''

She said the recent action against the assisted-living facility stems from a "demonstrated pattern of deficient performance.'' The 24-page complaint tells of "mold visibly growing'' on tubs containing gallons of chicken and red sauce, raw meat sitting on the kitchen counter for hours, dirty floors, walls, doors, doorknobs, linens, and several residents' doors without inside handles.

"The staff bathroom in the common area contained fecal matter in the (toilet) and was without toilet tissue and soap,'' it said.

Carden House is facing the harshest punishment. A hearing requested by the owners would likely take place quickly in Pinellas County, with evidence and witnesses in front of an administrative judge. The facility can appeal an unfavorable ruling to the District Court of Appeal.

Jim Longstreth, president of the Grand Central District Association, whose businesses have complained about Carden House, said he hopes some good comes from the proceedings, regardless of the outcome.

"I'm hoping that these actions are going to spur the owners to actually do what they need to be doing,'' he said. "If they are allowed to continue to operate, they will know that the state is watching them.''

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at or (727) 892-2283.

Agency moves to close home for mentally ill in St. Petersburg 03/20/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 19, 2010 7:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas sheriff's corporal had racist, sexist, pornographic content on his cell phone

    Public Safety

    LARGO — A Pinellas County sheriff's corporal resigned recently after an investigation into an alleged extramarital affair revealed a trove of racist, sexist and pornographic images on his personal cell phone.

    Shawn Pappas, 46, resigned as a training division corporal from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office after an investigation revealed a trove of offensive images and videos on his phone. This photo was taken as a screenshot from one of the videos released by the Sheriff's Office that Pappas filmed while on duty. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine reflects on the news from the Congressional Budget Office analysis that could imperil GOP leaders' hopes of pushing their health care the plan through the chamber this week, Tuesday, on Capitol Hill in Washington. [AP photo]
  3. Review: Dan Auerbach, Benjamin Booker plumb the past for inspiration on new albums

    Music & Concerts

    It didn't take Benjamin Booker long to get lumped in with the greats. The Tampa-raised singer-songwriter's 2014 self-titled blues-punk debut brought widespread acclaim, not to mention an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, a tour with Jack White and sessions with Mavis Staples.

    The cover of Benjamin Booker's new album "Witness." Credit: ATO Records
  4. Fourth of July in Tampa Bay: parades, hot dog parties, concerts and more things to do


    Looking for things to do on the Fourth of July in Tampa Bay? There is no shortage of patriotic events, from the Hot Dog Party concerts and eating contest in Tampa, to the parades in Land O' Lakes and Safety Harbor, to the swinging dance party at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine arts, there's an abundance of things to do …

    The annual Independence Day parade in Brandon kicks off at 10 a.m. on July 4 at 101 E Lumsden Road. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times (2015)]
  5. Pasco deputies investigate vandalism at Crystal Springs Cemetery (w/video)


    CRYSTAL SPRINGS — Pasco County deputies are looking for one or more suspects linked to vandalism of two grave sites in this community's small cemetery.

    An above-ground tomb disturbed by one or more suspects, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.