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  1. Health

Two local nursing homes land on federal watch list

Published Jun. 1, 2012

Two Tampa Bay area nursing homes have landed on a federal list of problem facilities. They risk losing their Medicare and Medicaid privileges if they don't shape up.

Recent inspections and complaint investigations have revealed a host of problems at Lakeshore Villas Health Care Center in Tampa and South Heritage Health & Rehabilitation Center in St. Petersburg. Each was recently designated a "special focus facility" by the agency that administers government health programs for the elderly and the poor.

Special focus facilities are those found to have more numerous and serious problems than other nursing homes. They are inspected twice as often as other homes, about twice a year, and must remain problem-free for 18 to 24 months to "graduate" from the program.

Lakeshore Villas, a 179-bed nonprofit nursing home at 16002 Lakeshore Villa Drive, was cited for violations including its handling of a resident who fondled another resident three times last year.

A complaint investigation last October found that the facility "failed to protect all residents from known inappropriate behaviors" of the resident. The facility was supposed to monitor the problem resident and keep him or her away from others. But state inspectors found no documentation showing that law enforcement had been contacted, or how residents were being protected.

The state also fined the home $43,500 for its handling of the incident.

Since the investigation, the problem resident was discharged and staff was trained on the proper way to handle such situations.

The nursing home's administrator, Christina Johnson, did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.

South Heritage Health, a 74-bed nonprofit nursing home at 718 Lakeview Ave. S in St. Petersburg, was cited in October for not having a system to identify residents with food allergies. In one case, inspectors found that a tuna sandwich was served to a resident who was allergic to tuna, and that resident then experienced chest pain.

The home quickly submitted a correction plan, and there have been no problems since, facility spokesman Tom Groesbeck said in a statement Thursday. He pointed out that the facility is already in a category of homes on the federal list that are showing improvement.

South Heritage is "confident they will continue to improve. Their focus continues to be on providing quality care to their patients and residents," he said in the statement.

Two other area nursing homes remain on the federal list — Palm Terrace of St. Petersburg and Bayonet Point Health & Rehabilitation Center in Hudson. The only other Florida home currently on the list is in Fort Pierce, on the east coast.

Richard Martin can be reached at rmartin@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3322.

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