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FOX 13 Tampa Headlines

GraceWood Healthcare Proxy: Obviously someone was negligent

The healthcare proxy assigned to Wilbert Moten at the GraceWood Rehabilitation and Nursing facility says he believes the staff on duty Saturday are to blame for the 65-year-old's death.

"He didn't deserve to die. His illness did not indicate that he was imminent," said Fernando Gutierrez, who's served as Moten's proxy for the last six months. "I just attended a care plan meeting approximately two weeks ago and everything was OK."

Moten was assigned to Gutierrez by GraceWood after it was determined Moten was mentally incapable of making his own health-related decisions. Gutierrez serves as proxy for dozens of Pinellas county nursing home wards, including approximately 10 living in the GraceWood facility.

Gutierrez says he visits his clients weekly, and never felt any indication that something like Saturday's tragedy would happen at GraceWood.

GraceWood has been cited and fined numerous times over the last decade. Medicare.gov gives the facility a "below average" overall rating and "much below average" health inspection rating. They're also on the state's nursing home watch list. Despite the fact that nursing homes must post their most recent state inspection results for anyone to view, Gutierrez says he didn't know about the facility's poor reputation.

"No. I was not aware, but what I was vigilant in is that my patients were treated with care and treated respectfully. I had no reason to doubt that until what happened Saturday evening," said Gutierrez, who also says he's looking into relocating all of his clients currently receiving treatment at GraceWood.

Moten was found outside in a partially shaded atrium on the facility's grounds. Staff members tell police they aren't exactly sure how long Moten may have been left outside on a day where the high neared 90 degrees. Staff quickly realized Moten needed medical attention. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital with severe dehydration, second degree burns and blistering on parts of his body. Moten later went into cardiac arrest and died.

"Obviously someone was negligent. The nurse obviously should be fired, the supervisor too of that shift," said Gutierrez. "It's unfortunate because there are some good people there who sincerely love helping people. It's unfortuate that one bad apple spoils the whole bunch."

Pinellas Park Police and the Department of Children and Families are investigation Moten's death as a possible abuse case.

The Agency for Health Care Administration performs routine inspections of all nursing homes. Their website, Floridahealthfinder.gov, provides inspection and violation information on any facility: http://www.floridahealthfinder.gov/facilitylocator/FacilitySearch.aspx

Healthcare experts recommend families use this tool to check facility's records before trusting a loved one in their care.

"I think people forget that AHCA's records are available online," said Tamara Cribben, CEO of Aging Solutions. "They're public record. That's absolutely something the family should be looking at."

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