Nursing home staffers and 33 residents agreed to end a two-day standoff Monday and comply with a corporate eviction notice that already sent residents at two other Florida nursing homes packing. "I would have done it if I could, as well as every staff member here," said acting administrator Kandi Kelly, praising staffers who continued to provide care even though told by the company they would not be paid.
"We've given our heart and soul, but there's nothing I can do," she said.
Meanwhile, state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS) officials were investigating the evictions at all three nursing homes to determine whether residents were given the proper seven days' notice.
Residents of three Village Green Retirement Centers _ in Winter Haven, New Port Richey and Tallahassee _ said they were given one day's notice to move Friday, when owner Universal Equities Inc. ordered the homes closed because of financial problems.
While residents of the other homes complied over the weekend, administrators, staffers, relatives and 33 residents of the Winter Haven home banded together to fight the order.
Later, on the advice of attorneys, Ms. Kelly said she had no choice but to comply with the eviction demand.
Ms. Kelly said she had been trying to find a "white knight" buyer for the home to prevent the residents from moving. But now that the fight was over, she said housing arrangements will be made for the evicted residents.
Village Green Inc. of Winter Haven has filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, said Thomas Woodward, the company's attorney. Universal Equities manages Village Green, he said.
The company is involved in litigation with First Federal Florida Savings of Osceola, which is foreclosing on the Village Green property, Woodward said.
Connie Cheren, the HRS director of licensure and certification, said residents at all three homes will be questioned to determine whether they were given legal notice.
And she said HRS attorneys will ask a Polk circuit judge to appoint a temporary receiver to supervise the Winter Haven eviction and ensure residents are given seven days to move out.