Florida’s Nursing Homes Have Created ‘A Crisis Of Their Own Making’

January 6, 2022


Media contact: Ed Gilhuly, 305-807-6906, egilhuly@leftcom.com

MIAMI---The state’s largest union of healthcare workers, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, has published “A Crisis Of Their Own Making,” a white paper highlighting the failures of the long-term care industry as illustrated by one of Florida’s largest nursing home chains.

The paper details the nursing home industry’s long-running crisis of care – including the inability to attract and retain caregivers -- for the most elderly and vulnerable Floridians. While the crisis was decades in the making, it has been further exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data reveals staffing shortages, high turnover and poor patient care ratings that pre-date the pandemic by decades.

The paper documents how the industry has created a complex business model and operating structure that allows operators to “obscure profits and avoid responsibility,” said Dale Ewart, 1199SEIU Executive Vice President in Florida. “They’ve perfected an operating model that may allow nursing home operators to avoid accountability for patient care issues, and to make money in an industry largely funded by tax dollars.”

According to “A Crisis Of Their Own Making,” privately-owned nursing homes receive about 70 percent of their revenue from Medicare, Medicaid and other public funding sources.

All of these issues began long ago, enabled by “20 years an anti-transparency, anti-accountability, gloves-off GOP-legislative approach to the nursing home industry,” said Roxey Nelson, Vice President of Politics and Strategic Campaigns for 1199SEIU in Florida. The industry has been working to profit further from the pandemic by seeking to convince current Florida lawmakers to increase nursing home funding while eliminating staffing, training and care standards and other oversight.

“The data exposed in this white paper is galling. Companies earn a great deal of money while our state’s entire long-term care system is subsidized on the backs of low-paid staff who often can’t afford healthcare of their own,” Nelson said.

Members of 1199SEIU work as caregivers and other staff in about 80 nursing homes across the state. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are the primary providers of direct nursing home care, such as bathing, dressing, feeding and other daily essential needs for Florida’s most frail, elderly patients. Yet, CNAs who must complete 128 hours of training in these important care areas, only earn on average about $12 per hour in Florida. Current Florida law requires each patient to receive a minimum of 2.5 hours of daily CNA care.

Nursing home lobbyists have taken special aim at dangerously reducing and even eliminating CNA care and staffing requirements under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic pressures, according 1199SEIU and other elder care advocates.

“We love our patients. They need and deserve more care, not less,” said Amy Runkle, a member of 1199SEIU and a CNA for more than 30 years in Florida. “This crisis of care is not because of the pandemic, and it’s not sustainable for patients, caregivers or our entire long-term care system.” To read the full “A Crisis Of Their Own Making” report, visit  https://everyminutecountsflorida.org/a-crisis-of-their-own-making/


1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest healthcare union in the country, representing more than 450,000 nurses and healthcare workers nationwide, including more than 24,000 in Florida. Our nurses, certified nursing assistants and other healthcare workers care for Florida families in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities throughout the state.