Fort Myers nursing home forced to close after gov’t says it failed to meet basic health, safety requirements

A nursing home in Southwest Florida that experienced a number of coronavirus cases and deaths will be forced to close soon, affecting dozens of families.

Both an employee and a patient at Heritage Park Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Fort Myers brought their concerns about COVID-19 in the facility to our attention in Spring 2020. They feared for their health and the people being treated there.

According to a termination letter from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, it claims Heritage Park’s Medicare funding is being cut “Due to their failure to meet basic health and safety requirements.”

It means people living there are forced to get out in a hurry.

We visited Heritage Park Tuesday and observed both staff and residents walking around and initially confirmed through an employee the facility will close sometime in August.

Damien Dixon has lived at Heritage Park for almost two years and was shocked when staff gave him a notice to vacate a few weeks ago.

“They handed me a notice from the state that the facility was closing down,” Dixon told WINK News. “The last few weeks have been insane.”

Along with the facility’s termination letter, we received a copy of the notice to vacate sent to tenants. It says residents must transfer or discharge because the facility is closing. It could lead to dozens of people being displaced or losing their jobs.

MORE: Health Park resident notice to vacate sent by Deputy Secretary of Medicaid

“Thirty residents and probably 25 employees, 30 employees,” Dixon said.

The termination letter doesn’t reveal specifics behind why Heritage Park’s funding is being cut, other than it being out of compliance for health and safety.

“They won’t tell us the exact violations,” Dixon said.

We’ve reported on numerous issues the facility dealt with over the past year, including safety complaints from staff members and spikes of COVID-19 cases amid the pandemic.

The letter also says Medicare services will be terminated Aug. 14 at the earliest, or 30 days later for anyone already living in the facility.

According to the letter, “Involuntary termination of a provider agreement is generally a last resort after all other attempts to remedy the deficiencies at a facility have been exhausted.”

We reached out to Consulate Healthcare, the group that owns Heritage Park. An employee in the consulate office told us they will never have any comment on the closure, but one staff member did confirm they will close in August.

We’ve reached out to the Agency for Healthcare Administration for more paperwork about what led to this shutdown and will update when we have received those documents.

After his experience, Dixon is ready to get out of Heritage Park and not look back. He plans to move to Washington D.C. to live with family.

“I’ve never seen anything as nightmarish as this place,” Dixon said. “The quality of care is ridiculous.”

Reporter:Peter Fleischer
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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