Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 21, 2012 – A judge recently declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Florida’s former ombudsman of long-term care, Brian Lee. The lawsuit contends that the Department of Elder Affairs fired Lee because of his advocacy for nursing home residents.
When Lee demanded ownership information from Florida long-term care facilities, Governor Rick Scott removed him from the position. The information is supposed to be available under the Affordable Health Care Act, which the Scott administration opposes. The ombudsman program is intended to allow nursing home residents and their families to file complaints and report violations of the law regarding their care.
When nursing home residents are suffering in their physical or mental health, they need to be able to voice their issues, and be heard. They may also be separated from their families or have no remaining family members, so they are isolated and have no one to represent their best interests. Former state ombudsman Lee said the Florida Health Care and Florida Assisted Living Association attempted to hamper him in the fulfillment of his official job function. He tried to be an assertive advocate for long-term care residents, which is why he was forced out of his position, he says.
“This controversy shows the importance of protecting the rights of nursing home residents”, said Tampa personal injury attorney Robert Joyce.
“The very fact that the ombudsman’s office is necessary demonstrates the importance of the issue of nursing home abuse and neglect,” said Joyce. “When a resident of a long-term care facility experiences a physical or emotional injury due to the negligence of the facility’s personnel, it is important for the family to contact a qualified personal injury attorney as quickly as possible.”
The Miami Herald reportedly has been publishing a number of accounts related to deaths occurring in assisted living facilities across the state of Florida, since 2002. About 80,000 people in the state are living in such facilities. This year, there has been talk of reforming the system to better serve these residents, but so far efforts at the policy level have disappointed advocates and concerned citizens.
Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
307 S Hyde Park Ave,
Tampa, FL 33606