Assisted living facility discharges three employees
A Cape Coral assisted living facility under investigation by the Department of Children and Families recently fired three employees.
DCF opened an investigation on Nov. 16 after being contacted by the Cape Coral police about a report filed involving allegations of elderly abuse taking place at Clare Bridge of Cape Coral, 911 Santa Barbara Blvd. Two victims are listed on the same agency abuse report, DCF officials reported.
Clare Bridge of Cape Coral is operated by Brookdale Senior Living, which has denied the allegations saying another state agency has investigated and classified them as “not confirmed.”
On Wednesday, officials at Brookdale Senior Living officials confirmed that three individuals recently were let go for “violating company policy and being disruptive to operations.” They emphasized that the terminations were not related to their ongoing internal investigation or to any related incident.
“Specifically, the acts for which terminations occurred were directly tied to failure to maintain confidentiality, disrespect, threatening others and spreading gossip,” Public Relations Manager Holly Botsford said in a prepared statement. “These are clearly outlined in our Associate Handbook.”
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.
On Wednesday, Botsford said the company has an open door philosophy.
“Every employee is advised that he or she may contact anyone — up to and including the chief operating officer — if he or she has a concern with regard to the safety of residents or others,” she said. “Our company not only encourages the reporting of abuse and neglect but requires such reporting, just as do the laws of the state of Florida.”
Brookdale Senior Living provides a toll-free number for anonymously reporting concerns or issues and “strictly prohibits retaliation of any kind,” Botsford added. She noted that the state also provides a hotline for people to report any concerns regarding possible abuse or neglect.
Attempts to contact the employee who reportedly provided the notarized statement to Barletta about the abuse allegations were unsuccessful Wednesday.
DCF expects to complete its investigation within 60 days. Any finding will be provided to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which licenses the assisted living facility. The agency conducts regular inspections, follows up on “deficiencies” or violations, and checks up when a complaint is filed.
According to the agency’s website, Clare Bridge 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 during the inspections were related to paperwork.
Botsford reported that Brookdale Senior Living implemented an internal investigation after being made aware of the allegations of potential abuse. She said the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration completed its investigation, adding that it reported the allegation was not confirmed.