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Pensacola Assisted Living Facility Accused in Resident Death

Pensacola News Journal

By Emma Kennedy

A Pensacola assisted living facility has been forced to turn away new patients in the wake of a damning report that paints a picture of inept staff, inadequate recordkeeping and a negligent patient death.

Earlier this month, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration issued an emergency moratorium on admissions to Alpine Adult Care Center, following an investigation into the 14-bed facility on Louisiana Drive. The report alleges a number of residents weren’t given correct medication dosages, some were administered expired prescriptions and the facility didn’t keep adequate records about do not resuscitate orders and end-of-life wishes.

One patient died last year after what the AHCA suggests were negligent circumstances. The patient battled schizophrenia and anxiety for years and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease so bad that it required hospice-level care by November. Doctors prescribed breathing medication four times a day, as well as an inhaler once a day to help with symptoms. But the AHCA report alleges staff at Alpine Adult Care Center were habitually lax with those medication requirements.

Six hours after the staff allegedly failed to administer an early-morning dosage of the breathing medication on Nov. 14, the patient was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor. Emergency responders pronounced the patient dead soon after.

The AHCA investigation found three of the four staff members who handled the unresponsive patient weren’t trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The report also states a number of other residents weren’t given correct medication dosages and were administered expired prescriptions.

Records dating back several years show the AHCA, the state’s regulatory authority for assisted-living facilities, has cited Alpine Adult Care Center numerous times. Citations state staff were not screened for diseases, did not keep up to date with required medication training and did not clearly document patients’ end-of-life care and death wishes.

Sue Ann Thompson, financial officer of Alpine Adult Care Center, declined on Monday to comment on the accusations or the current state of the assisted-living center. The AHCA report states an administrator on site at the time of the inspection claimed staff had administered the breathing medicine to the now-deceased patient in the hours before death, but a log was not kept.

As of last week, 11 residents were still living at the facility, according to an email from an AHCA spokeswoman. The agency will continue to monitor Alpine as the investigation continues, according to the email.

The moratorium came after a review of five patients’ records. The report claims one patient received half of the prescribed medication and another did not receive help with medications for two weeks.

The report claims the center’s “deficient practices” are “systemic.”

“Individually and collectively, these facts reflect that the residents of this facility are not currently residing in a safe and decent living environment free from abuse and neglect,” the report states.

Often, the families of residents who stay in assisted-living homes aren’t aware of complaints or disciplinary actions taken against a business, said Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care, a nursing home watchdog group based in Austin, Texas.

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