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Questionable Deaths Reported in Florida's Assisted Living Facilities

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Miami, FLA report by NPR and the Miami Herald has revealed that state regulators in Florida are not adequately protecting residents of assisted living facilities. According to their report, dozens of deaths in Florida state records appear questionable.

Florida has almost 3,000 assisted living facilities housing thousands of people who are unable to care for themselves on their own. It was among the first states to regulate assisted living facilities and adopt a Residents Bill of Rights. Furthermore, the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) oversees the state's nursing homes, and any accidental deaths must be reported to the AHCA.

However, NPR reports the AHCA has no record of the death of an 85-year old woman, Aurora Navas, who drowned while living in an assisted care facility in Miami. Mrs. Navas' family ended up suing the owner of the facility their mother had lived and died in for wrongful death. It is one of 5 facilities owned by Isabel Lopez, who settled the case out of court for an undisclosed amount.

In an interview with NPR the lawyer who represented the Navas family said, "On close examination, you see facilities with clearly inadequate living conditions, or improperly trained staff, or improper oversight. And essentially, what you end up with is basically a bunch of small warehouses for the elderly. And that — I find that troubling."

Navas' death has raised numerous questions about how well residents are cared for, and by whom. In total, NPR reports some 70 cases in which the deaths are questionable, some occurring in facilities of 100 beds while others happened in smaller facilities with as few as 6 beds.

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