Local 10 Investigates: Unsafe assisted living facilities under scrutiny

We trust and hope that assisted living facilities do the right thing in taking care of our loved ones, but inside some South Florida ALFs all is not well.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – We trust and hope that assisted living facilities do the right thing in taking care of our loved ones, but inside some South Florida ALFs all is not well.

Local 10 News has learned two local assisted living facilities are now under investigation. One had its license to operate yanked while the other was told to stop taking in new residents.

The advice for anyone having to place a loved one in an assisted living facility? Investigate that facility. The Agency for Healthcare Administration has public records online. Take the time to look because it could save you and your loved ones pain and suffering in the long run.

See the public records of assisted living facilities in Florida.

Local 10 News Investigates arrived at Alpha & Omega Residential, a licensed 48-bed assisted living facility in Hialeah.

“Where is Barbara?” we asked.

“Barbara is not here.”

“Can you call her and tell her we’d like to talk to her.”

We were looking for Barbara Calvino. State records show that she is president of Alpha & Omega.

In a telephone conversation, she said she’d get back to us about the state’s emergency orders, but she never did.

When we finally got her on the phone, she said she had no comment. We reminded her that she never called us back.

“I know. I have no comments,” she says. “I didn’t call you back for a reason.”

We ask her if she is putting patients at risk?

“No. I am not. Thank you,” she says.

But that is exactly what the Agency for Health Care Administration said is happening.

The state agency took emergency action and prohibited Alpha & Omega from taking in any new residents.

According to the emergency order, Calvino’s facility poses: “An immediate serious danger to public health.”

The facility’s deficient practices exist presently, have existed in the past, and, according to a report, two residents with mental health issues and both known to Alpha & Omega to be a risk of escape vanished.

The report says video evidence reflects at 10 p.m. one night a resident jumped over the fence and fled.

The report says that it took staff 14 hours to notify the police.

A second resident with mental health issues was seen on video pacing back and forth for two hours before also jumping a fence.

We approached Calvino to ask her about the incidents.

“Do you have enough staffing at your places?” Local 10 News investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier asked.

She looks at us, but does not answer.

State records show Alpha & Omega and Calvino have been fined close to $7,000 in the past -- fines for failing to provide CPR to two residents found unresponsive who both died.

There was also staff with expired CPR and first aid training, and they were also fined for having deficient COVID-19 practices.

But that is not the only place under the microscope. There is also Morning Breeze, an assisted living facility at 5940 Northwest 19th Court in Lauderhill.

Nine residents were living here when the state recently suspended their license to operate and shut the doors.

According to state records, fire rescue was recently called.

Upon arrival, there was no staff and no supervision at the time.

The report says a resident walked into an open office and got into an unlocked cabinet of medicine and ingested medication that didn’t belong to him.

Mohan Ramnarine is the manager-caretaker for Morning Breeze.

We asked: “Isn’t someone always supposed to be here?”

“Yes, but because of COVID, I have little money. I couldn’t hire staff to be here around the clock,” Ramnarine said.

“But you have a sense of responsibility when you are taking care of people,” Weinsier said.

“I know my guys. I know I can go to the store, grab something and come back. This time it didn’t happen. In the past I have done it,” Ramnarine said.

“You are taking a gamble,” Weinsier told Ramnarine.

“Yes, yes, taking a gamble. I know my guys. If something happened, they would usually call me,” he said.

Despite relinquishing his license after the suspension, Ramnarine said he wants to reopen.

“I’m thinking I may open,” he said.

Both places face serious fines. Both can appeal what’s stated in the emergency orders.

(See Agency for Health Care Administration vs. Alpha & Omega Residential)

(See Agency for Health Care Administration vs. Morning Breeze)

About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.