Deteriorating conditions at University Village, now it’s the cold

Investigations

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The drama for hundreds of seniors living at University Village retirement community in Hillsborough County continues.

For years, they’ve endured things like elevator break-downs, garbage piling up and a general deterioration of what was once a highly desirable place to retire.

Now you can add cold to that list of problems.

Photographs of thermostats in some of the common areas at University Village tell the story.

Thursday morning, the heat was set at 74 degrees.

The temperature inside was 51.

On Wednesday, the thermostat was set at 80.

Inside, it was 56.

Emails sent to the Office of Insurance Regulation, obtained by News Channel 8, show residents dressed in winter coats to eat at the buffet.

The emails revealed problems with heat at University Village back in December.

“To see some of the things that I’ve seen from the correspondence that you’ve received is shocking,” said State Senator Tom Lee (R)-Hillsborough County.

University Village and residents who invested their life savings to live in this continuing care retirement community are being dragged through bankruptcy proceedings.

A lengthy, expensive legal battle between the facility’s owners and the state took priority over deteriorating conditions.

In July of 2016, it was the heat.

Before that, leaking pipes in the ceilings flooded hallways and rooms.

In November, staff were forced to bang through a door to help an injured resident because they couldn’t locate the key.

In October, an email to the state complained a resident pulled a med call cord twice.

Staff did not respond for hours.

She was found dead in her apartment.

After that incident, a University Village resident wrote the state, “The bankruptcy court needs to understand, the situation here is dire.”

“As this facility deteriorates, we’ve gone from a situation where people are frustrated and concerned and worried, to now their life and safety are in jeopardy,” bemoaned Senator Lee.

Now, it’s the cold.

After Target 8 inquiries, heat is being restored.

OIR says it takes these complaints seriously, is working with other agencies and has been assured the heating issue has either been resolved or is in the process of being taken care of.

If you have something that you think should be investigated, call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808.

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