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DCF looking into elder abuse allegation

By Staff | Nov 27, 2010

The Department of Children and Families is looking into a report of alleged elderly abuse at an assisted living facility in Cape Coral.
DCF opened an investigation on Nov. 16 after being contacted by the Cape Coral police about a report filed involving Clare Bridge of Cape Coral, at 911 Santa Barbara Blvd. Two victims are listed on the same DCF abuse report.
“I can confirm that we are investigating, which is typical for an allegation like this,” Terry Field, a spokesman for the department, said.
According to the police report, Joe Arcurio and John Barletta each stated that they have a relative living at Clare Bridge, and they were informed by an employee that a nursing assistant has been abusing the residents. One was reportedly was taken to the hospital after being punched in the chest.
The report states that Arcurio’s relative was seen with bruises on his face and nose as recently as two weeks ago. Arcurio was told that his relative had fallen off of the couch. Barletta’s relative claimed that someone grabbed his thumb and would not let go. The person’s name was redacted in the report.
One employee reportedly provided a notarized statement to Barletta about the abuse, but was in fear of losing her job. She stated that an employee had complained of the abuse to the corporate office and was immediately fired.
Field said DCF typically comes to a finding in a case within 60 days.
Clare Bridge of Cape Coral is operated by Brookdale Senior Living. It denies the allegations, says they were found as “unconfirmed” by another state agency, and says it is cooperating with the DCF investigation.
“Recently, we were made aware of allegations of potential abuse to our residents. As a result, an extensive and thorough internal investigation was implemented,” Holly Botsford, public relations manager for Brookdale Senior Living, said in a prepared statement.
“The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration has completed its investigation, and has reported that ‘the allegation was not confirmed’ and ‘no deficiencies were identified’ in this situation,” Botsford added.
According to Field, any findings by DCF will be provided to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which licenses the assisted living facility.
Shelisha Durden, spokeswoman for the agency, reported that the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration conducts inspections on facilities as bi-annual checks, to follow up on “deficiencies” or violations identified during a prior visit, or when a complaint is filed.
If a deficiency is found, the facility is cited and given a period of time to correct the issue. The agency also may declare no new admissions at the facility until the problem is addressed.
“We try to work with the facilities,” Durden said.
If future inspections reveal that nothing has been fixed or the deficiency persists, the health care agency may consider pulling the facility’s license.
“Then we could move to revoke their license,” she said.
According to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration website, Clare Bridge of Cape Coral has had nine inspections between October 2009 and Oct. 6, 2010. In four instances deficiencies were cited, while three of the inspections were sparked by a complaint.
All of the deficiencies identified were related to paperwork.
On the most recent inspection, Oct. 6, no deficiencies were found.
Botsford noted that the company is working with DCF.
“In keeping with our standard procedures, we are cooperating fully with the investigation of the Florida Department of Children and Families,” she said.
“The safety and security of our residents is always our first priority,” Botsford added. “Clare Bridge Cape Coral is committed to quality care and services for our residents. Abuse of any kind is not tolerated.”
Anyone who is being abused or knows about abuse going on at an assisted living facility can call the DCF abuse hotline at (800) 96-ABUSE (962-2873).