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The Ledger

Assisted-Living Facility's License in Jeopardy

State agency may act against Loving Heart Home of North Lakeland.

Picture of Loving Heart Home of North Lakeland
MICHAEL WILSON | Ledger photos
The Loving Heart Home of Lakeland at 815 West Daughtery Road in north Lakeland. The owner of the assisted living facility may have their license to operate revoked by the state.

Friday, April 3, 2009

By John Chambliss

LAKELAND | An assisted-living facility owner charged with Medicaid fraud at a Kissimmee facility may have her license stripped from a similar business she owns in North Lakeland.

The state agency that oversees the Loving Heart Home of Lakeland is attempting to permanently remove the facility's license, citing numerous deficiencies that it says include falsifying medical documents for untrained employees, unclean conditions and failing to provide medicine for bedridden patients.

Online records show the facility's license expired in March, but Shelisha Durden, a spokeswoman with the Agency for Healthcare Administration, said the facility still has a license.

Officials with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs are concerned that some of the 44 residents at the facility at 815 West Daughtery Road are unaware that it could shut down.

"If it's going to close, we've encouraged the owner to be proactive," said Will Teague, regional ombudsman for Department of Elder Affairs. "But the owner is saying they are not shutting down."

Chris Hawkins told Bay News 9 that he moved his mother, Louise Hawkins, 89, to a new facility after receiving a phone call from the state agency about the facility losing its license.

So far, it's been hard for his mother, Hawkins said.

"She made a lot of good friends," Hawkins said. "But she's all alone now."

Hawkins said that his mother typically didn't complain about the facility, but she recently told her son that employees wouldn't let her leave for a breath of fresh air.

"She's not one to gripe," Hawkins said. "But she said it felt like a prison."

The facility, which provides care for those with low incomes, has dozens of patients with Alzheimer's or other mental issues.

Hawkins' mother was alert and did not suffer from Alzheimer's, but he said he thought employees treated all the patients as if they had dementia.

The owner of the facility, Edith Andrada, 50, of Winter Garden, was arrested by the state Attorney General's Office on March 27.

She is accused of filing more than $52,600 in false claims to the Medicaid program by using untrained and unqualified staff.

She was charged with organized scheme to defraud, a first-degree felony; criminal use of personal identification information; and one count of Medicaid fraud.

Andrada, who has been released on $10,000 bail, did not return a phone message on Friday.

If convicted, she faces up to 50 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

The Kissimmee facility has had problems since Andrada took over in 2005, records show.

In December, Andrada, a registered nurse, reported that three of her employees had tuberculosis tests, but an inquiry by Teague showed the tests were never given.

The Department of Elder Affairs reported it found:

  • A moldy shower.
  • Four staff members walked into rooms without permission.
  • Bed rails had not arrived 10 days after they were ordered.
  • No telephone for residents.
  • Several residents were cold and "bundled up."

Teague said it's unclear how many people are employed at the facility, because several volunteers work there.

Many of the patients are Optional State Supplement clients who earn less than $1,000 a month and meet the requirement for the state to pay for the facility, Teague said.

John Chambliss can be reached at or 863-802-7588.

This story appeared in print on page A1