Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) July 24, 2018 - A movement to add a Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights to the Florida constitution is currently underway.
While some organizations see the bill as a ploy for lawyers to gain further income from a spike in claims against nursing homes, Brecht Heuchan believes that the proposal is more geared towards establishing “a situation where the rights of residents of long-term care facilities are at least on par with the rights of everyone else.”
Heuchan, Florida Constitution Revision Commission member, filed Proposal 88 last November. The commission’s Declaration of Rights Committee approved the proposal on January 19 and is now in the process of moving to the full commission for cogitation.
Last September, Hurricane Irma caused a power outage that wiped out the air conditioning at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in turn causing many elderly residents to suffer from overheating. The 14 deaths of residents at the center spurred on the proposal, according to Heuchan.
“Everyone deserves to have their rights protected, especially the elderly who rely on these nursing homes for care and comfort,” said Robert Joyce, a Tampa nursing home abuse attorney with the law firm Joyce & Reyes. “We need to ensure that situations like the deaths at Hollywood Hills do not happen in the future.”
With Proposal 88, nursing home employees would be required to treat residents with respect and courtesy. The facilities themselves would have to have liability insurance or another type of financial resources to cover any instance of “loss, injury and damage [residents] suffer because of abuse, negligence, neglect, exploitation or violations of residents’ rights.”
Some organizations voiced concerns and worries regarding the bill. Emmett Reed, the executive director of the Florida Health Care Association, feels that the proposal would mostly boost trial lawyers’ income because of an increase in nursing home abuse claims. Reed argues that Florida is “among the best in the nation in nursing and CNA staffing ratios.”
Heuchan sees the proposal as a necessity for change regarding “these poorer people who go to these facilities that aren’t quite as good,” rather than the facilities that have received positive recognition by the governor’s Panel of Excellence.
It will take 22 of 37 commission members to pass the proposal in order for it to land on the November general election ballot. For Proposal 88 to be added to the Florida constitution, 60 percent of voters must vote in support of the bill.
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Tampa, FL 33606