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PRESS RELEASE
FRIDAY, October 7, 2011  

DOEA News Release

CONTACT:
ERICA WILSON
(850) 414-2327
wilsone@elderaffairs.org

OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM VOLUNTEER WINS
NATIONAL LEADERSHIP AWARD

TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program today announced Don Hering as the winner of the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care Howard Hinds Memorial Award, given in memory of Howard Hinds, a Tennessee ombudsman who championed improved resident care on the local and national stage.  Every year, the Consumer Voice awards individuals who have shown exceptional work to improve the lives of residents living in long-term care facilities. 

Retired USMC, Don Hering, joined the Ombudsman Program in 2004 after reading an article in a local paper about a problematic assisted living facility in Tampa.  His determined advocacy efforts influenced the state regulatory agency’s eventual efforts to shut down multiple poor performing assisted living facilities in the Tampa Bay area.  After the facility closures, Don continued to work with the regulatory agency to ensure unlicensed activity ceased at these formerly licensed facilities and the residents had a safe place to live that met their needs.

“Florida community and state leaders, long-term care facility residents and Ombudsman Program staff and volunteers respect and know Don  for his patience, professional conduct, leadership and drive to protect the rights of Florida’s most vulnerable population,” said State Ombudsman, Jim Crochet.

In a recommendation letter for the award, Senator Ronda Storms (R-Valrico) wrote, “I have personally known Colonel Hering for the past five years and have been truly impressed by his passion and dedication to Florida’s elderly population.  Over the years, Colonel Hering has worked tirelessly to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves by helping to protect their health, safety, welfare and rights.”

In addition to receiving the Howard Hinds Memorial Award, Don Hering was recently persuaded to leave retirement behind by accepting the role of Deputy State Ombudsman of Field Operations with the Florida Ombudsman Program.  Don’s new staff position bases him out of Tampa, where it all began eight years ago, and where he continues working to safeguard long-term care facillity residents.

The Howard Hinds Memorial Award will be presented at the Awards Ceremony at the Consumer Voice’s 36th Annual Meeting and Conference at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI, Friday, October 28, from 8:45 – 10 a.m.

Individuals interested in volunteering or learning more about the Ombudsman Program may call toll-free 1-888-831-0404 or visit http://ombudsman.myflorida.com online.  All program services, including individualized response to residents’ concerns, are free.

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