PLANT CITY, Fla. - The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration has placed an immediate moratorium on admissions to the Community Care Center in Plant City, pending an investigation into potentially toxic living conditions.
The nursing home facility has a sign on the front door asking visitors to pardon their dust during renovations, which Skylar Speegle's noticed while visiting her granddad.
"They do clean up a lot, and they try to make sure everything is clean and neat while they're doing the renovations," Speegle said.
The 120-bed facility at 2202 West Oak Avenue isn't cleaning up nearly enough, though, according to AHCA.
In the moratorium filed January 24, the state agency cites the center for heavy dust and other violations related to ongoing construction. Investigators found half an inch of dust on some surfaces, medication carts sitting among drywall particles, food prepared in a kitchen with heavy dust, and residents complaining of breathing issues and illness because of fumes.
A staff worker even admitted to wearing a mask because of the air conditions.
"I didn't know about that, but that that seems kind of worrisome," Speegle said. "I know that they have some of the doors blocked off."
In addition to unsafe breathing conditions, the report claims fire doors were blocked, the fire alarm disabled everyday, and when rooms faced remodeling, staff left residents in common areas with nowhere else to go.
Robyn Bell isn't surprised. Her mother died last March while a resident at the Community Care Center. The medical examiner's office ruled it an accident due to blunt impact after she fell.
Bell calls it neglect and says she's relieved to hear the state won't let her mother's old home accept any new patients pending their investigation.
"She looked horrible," Bell said. "I'm glad to know and I'd be even happier to know if it was closed down. I'm not the only one either."
Her neighbor, Elizabeth Metzger, also has complaints.
"Because of situations like my husband," she said.
Metzger says her husband, also a resident at the Community Care Center, suffered from COPD and died a month ago.
AHCA ordered the facility to make immediate changes. If not, they could also lose their license.
"Hopefully they'll take them somewhere else that will take care of them," Metzger said.