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PRESS RELEASE
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2009

DOEA News Release

CONTACT:
Liz Sprayberry
850-414-2327
sprayberrye@elderaffairs.org

ELDER AFFAIRS, OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM HONOR CHAIRMAN'S YEARS OF SERVICE

TALLAHASSEE – After more than nine years of advocacy for long-term care facility residents, ombudsman Farrell Groves has resigned as chair of the Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program’s state council. Department of Elder Affairs Secretary E. Douglas Beach and State Ombudsman Brian Lee praised Groves as a dedicated volunteer who continually put the needs of others before his own interests.  

Groves, an Air Force retiree and former vice president of Northern Pacific Railway, began his tenure as a volunteer ombudsman in 2000, working from his home in the Lakeland area. After serving a two-year term as vice chair, in 2007 he became chair of the state council. Groves submitted his resignation from the council and the program last week, citing health reasons. Vice Chairman Don Hering assumes the chairmanship and will appoint a new vice chair next month.

In addition to his service to the Ombudsman Program, Groves served as a volunteer counselor for the Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders (SHINE) Program. Both the Ombudsman Program and SHINE are units of the Department of Elder Affairs.

“Farrell Groves dedication to our state’s elders speaks for itself,” Secretary Beach said. “By giving so much of himself to two of our Department’s outstanding programs, Farrell has shown by example how one person can make a meaningful difference in the lives of Florida’s seniors.”

“It takes a special person to be an ombudsman,” added Lee, who is director of the Ombudsman Program. “Farrell’s personal dedication to residents over the last nine years has been outstanding. For a unique program whose success depends on the boldness and compassion of volunteers, leaders like Farrell are the very legs we stand on. He always gave 150 percent and refused to settle for less than the highest quality of service for each resident he served.”

Floridians who move into licensed long-term care facilities are granted special residents’ rights by state and federal law. When the residents, their loved ones or other concerned citizens believe those rights have been ignored or violated by a facility, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is the agency called in to investigate. Groves has been one of 413 ombudsman volunteers who dedicate thousands of hours each year to improving the quality of life for long-term care facility residents throughout the state.

In addition to his volunteer work for the two Department of Elder Affairs programs, Groves has been active in community service with his local church and through several relief trips to hurricane-affected areas of the Caribbean.

“I wanted to be an ombudsman because I knew there were people in nursing homes with nobody to be their voice, no friends or family left to keep an eye on their care,” said Groves. “We have to keep fighting the good fight on behalf of residents. We have the unique chance to really make a difference in somebody’s life.”

Throughout the state last year, the Ombudsman Program’s volunteers conducted 3,932 administrative assessments of long-term care facilities, representing 173,785 beds. They also responded to more than 7,758 complaints from residents, families and concerned citizens.

“Farrell’s no-nonsense approach to advocacy and passion for residents, as well as his friendship to so many of our staff and volunteers, will be greatly missed,” Lee said. “His resignation is a heavy loss to both the program and the residents.”

The only organization of its kind advocating for long-term care residents throughout the state, Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program seeks to ensure the health, safety, welfare and rights of individuals who live in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult family care homes. The program benefits from the efforts of more than 400 volunteers, many of whom have served as ombudsmen for more than 25 years.

To learn more about the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program's services and volunteer opportunities, call toll-free 1-888-831-0404 or visit http://ombudsman.myflorida.com.

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