Tuesday, December 27, 2011
FL: Inspections Decline as Elder Watchdogs are Muzzled
For five weeks, the leaders of Florida’s assisted-living watchdog group pondered what to do with volunteer advocate Bill Hearne.
The 74-year-old former businessman had been “a real asset” to the state’s Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, the group’s top lawyer wrote in an email.
But Hearne also had an annoying habit of telling reporters, public task forces and his colleagues that the advocacy group was “in bed with” industry leaders it was supposed to oversee.
One of Hearne’s bosses called his behavior “toxic.” In the end, the desire to shut Hearne up trumped his contributions to the program, and state Ombudsman Jim Crochet dismissed him last month.
Crochet attached a copy of the dismissal letter to his staff to a Nov. 29 email that contained only one sentence: “This should be in the Miami Herald soon.”
Hearne says his supervisors never warned him that his complaints had become intolerable, though emails between his bosses suggest he was aware he was likely to be dismissed. He added that even if he’s not officially working for the ombudsman’s office, “that will not deter me in advocating for the residents of [long-term care] facilities one iota.”
Hearne, who lives in Miami, is among a growing number of volunteer elder advocates who have either been dismissed or have resigned in the wake of an ongoing purge of inspectors who criticize or challenge the program’s decision to move in a dramatically new direction.
Full Article and Source:
Inspections Decline as Elder Watchdogs are Muzzled
ALF Watchdog: I was Dumped for Doing my Job
Florida Curtails Effort to Police ALF's
Program to Protect Elders Undermined, Feds Say
Legislators Grill State Elder Affairs Chief Over Allegations of Muzzling Activists
Grand Jury Demands Florida Get Tough on ALF Operators
Search the ALF Database
Neglected to Death - The Miami Herald Series