Resident beaten with a belt, a woman tied to a chair for hours, state slams the door on A-L-F


Beaten with a belt, unqualified staff dispensing medication, a woman tied down for hours each day are just a few reasons why a Hillsborough County assisted living facility is closed.

Despite fines, despite citations,  Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration determined residents at La Vida En El Mar in Town ‘N’ Country, presents an immediate risk to residents and they are not living in a safe environment free from abuse and neglect.

AHCA issue an ‘Emergency Suspension Order’ this week stating “Deficient practices exist presently, have existed for an extended period of time in the past without corrective action and will continue if the Agency does not act promptly.”

According to emergency order, on May 22nd, a resident of La Vida En El Mar a-l-f was dropped off at a local hospital emergency room.  The resident “displayed bruises to his left forearm, right wrist, and stomach.”   

The resident claimed the bruises were “caused by a caretaker at the facility beating the resident with a belt.”

May 29th, “unqualified staff” dispensing medication.

Someone identifying herself as a cousin of a staff member, “hid in a closet, refusing to interact with Agency personnel.”

“You just can’t make this stuff up,” Brian Lee, executive director of Families For Better Care, a long term care watchdog group said.  “They’re trying to talk to someone through the closet to get answers to questions?  That should never happen.”

The emergency order suspended La Vida En el Mar’s operating license.

“I think that there’s a track record here that shows that something should have maybe been done awhile ago,” Brian Lee added.

“The Agency takes its responsibility to hold facilities accountable for patient care very seriously. The Agency imposes fines or sanctions – such as denied renewal, revocation, suspension and moratorium on admissions – as necessary to ensure facilities are protecting the safety and well-being of residents entrusted to their care,” AHCA Deputy Communications Director Patrick Manderfield stated in an email. “Under Florida law, emergency orders against facilities are issued when there is an immediate, serious danger to the health, safety or welfare of patients.”  

The state also found La Vida En El Mar “exceeding license limitations.”

In February a state surveyor spotted a female physically tied down to a chair.  

Staff explained she was “tied down at her waste anywhere from two to three hours a day” to keep her from wandering off when staff was busy.

“Even if you look at the fines related to some of these past problems at this facility, they’re not very serious,” Brian Lee added.  “I mean you’r talking $500 dollars here, $1,500 dollars there, I mean that’s not a lot of money.”

The assisted living facility is now closed.  The residents moved.  According to a woman who identified herself as a renter, she now occupies the house.

Brian Lee thinks it’s time lawmakers as well as the Agency for Health Care Administration crack down and get tougher on the long term care industry.  

Lives depend on it. 

If you know of something that should be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.

Contact Steve Andrews at

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