Jacksonville Beach nursing home patients moved away from loved ones

Avante at Jacksonville Beach shuts down ventilator care program, moves patients

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Avante at Jacksonville Beach moved two patients Monday to Ormond Beach for treatment after deciding to shut down its ventilator care program, according to the facility and families. 

Two families said they're upset that they will have to drive nearly 90 miles to see their loved ones. 

I-TEAM: Jacksonville Beach nursing home to transfer patients away from families

Bonnie Oakman and her husband helped their friend, Noreen Duby, move from the nursing home Monday.

"It's extremely difficult, extremely difficult for both families involved," Oakman said.

Duby's family and the family of another patient, Abdo Rustom, first contacted the News4Jax I-TEAM after being notified in April that their loved ones were going to be moved because the ventilator care program that they use to stay alive was ending,

Both families appealed the notice, but nothing has been done.

"She is very, very upset and does not want to move. And basically, the choice was to go to hospice, where she will die, or go down to Ormond," Oakman said. 

Avante's executive director, John Simmons, told the I-TEAM Friday that keeping only two ventilator care patients at the facility isn’t financially feasible because of the amount of care they require. 

"It angers me the most that it comes down to a money issue. There should be more support," Oakman said.

Abdo Rustom, who is living with stage 5 Parkinson’s disease, was also moved. His daughter, Rima Rustom, said the move is devastating for the entire family, but they will make whatever sacrifices they can so that their parents can see each other every day. 

"We will drive her there a few hours a day to make sure she is satisfied and make sure that he sees her and then drive her back," Rima Rustom said.

Avante told the I-TEAM that there are only about 15 ventilator programs in the state and it offered the facilities closest to its patients' loved ones. 

The I-TEAM requested to interview Simmons at the Jacksonville Beach facility, but the corporate office decline the interview. Instead, Simmons told the I-TEAM over the phone that Avante followed all of the procedures appropriately to end the ventilator program. 

I-TEAM: Avante at Jacksonville Beach on watch list by state inspectors

The I-TEAM found that the facility is currently on a watch list by state inspectors, and ranks poorly in overall care, in comparison to other facilities in Jacksonville.

The Agency for Health Care Administration gave Avante at Jacksonville Beach the lower comparative score – one star out of five for quality of care, overall inspection and administration.

Only one category received three out of five stars – quality of life for patients. The scores were last updated in May.

The I-TEAM also found that the AHCA has received 27 complaints against the facility since 2013 and has investigated at least 10 concerns.

In an off-camera interview Friday, Simmons acknowledged the family’s concerns, saying that keeping only two ventilator care patients at the facility isn’t financially feasible because of the amount of care they require.

Avante at Jacksonville Beach is a for-profit nursing home with 165 beds for patients and costs patients on average of $295 a day to live there.

The facility is currently about 76 percent occupied with 126 patients living there, according to state records. It’s currently licensed, but the facility’s license expires at the end of the month.

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