Talk about the “fox guarding the hen house.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed Larry Sherberg to chair the governor’s panel looking to improve living conditions in the state’s Adult Living Facilities (ALFs).
Who is Larry Sherberg? He is one of the biggest violators of current ALF regulations.
Just one week before Sherberg appeared on a panel in Miami to discuss how to change the laws regulating ALF homes, his own company was fined $1,000 for failing to properly care for a resident at his Lincoln Manor home in Hollywood.
A woman living in his Hollywood facility was rushed to the emergency room clad in a filthy hospital gown, covered with head lice, scabies on her face and feces caked under her fingernails. And, this was not the first violation. In the past three years the Agency for Health Care Administration found he had violated almost one dozen provisions of the very law he was appointed by Gov. Scott to toughen up.
Sherberg’s other title? He is the chairman of the Florida Assisted Living Association’s Legislative Committee. Elder advocates have been lobbying the legislature to tighten up the rules governing ALF homes for a long time. However it would appear that the ALF owner’s association, the Florida Assisted Living Association, has more influence than the elder advocates as the last session of the legislature quickly defeated any attempt to correct the problem.
The owners of the homes won. The senior citizens living in the facilities lost. The questions in Tallahassee must be: (1) Do seniors in ALFs vote? (2) How many dollars do ALF owners make in political contributions?
Sherberg, Gov. Scott’s appointee, is so brazen that he called for the elimination of dollar fines and any money so collected instead be given to the violators to rehab their facility.
Bentley Lipscomb, former secretary of the Department of Elder Affairs blasted the idea of dropping dollar penalties saying that they were a crucial deterrent.
“When are people going to wake up and realize that people are dying in these places? What’s it going to take?”
Remember the Miami Herald’s series of articles “Neglected to Death?” The series discussed the dozens of seniors dying from abuse and neglect in ALFs around the state. After that series of articles any normal, decent, caring legislative body would have charged forward and set up a committee to investigate the allegations. Seeing firsthand the violations the legislature would have passed laws with teeth to end the abuses.
But not in Tallahassee with this legislature — the dollar contributions to campaign war chests must be far more important. After all, what are a few old, sick people in a retirement home? They’ll probably die before they have a chance to vote anyway.
We appreciate your opinions on this column whether in agreement or disagreement. Please send your comments to (fax number) 305-662-6980 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of this newspaper, its editors or publisher.