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Assisted living operator fights $12,500 fine imposed for tossing out elderly patients

The assisted living facility who evicted several elderly patients with only 36 hours notice will fight the fine levied against her by one state agency, while another agency continues and expands its investigation.
The assisted living facility who evicted several elderly patients with only 36 hours notice will fight the fine levied against her by one state agency, while another agency continues and expands its investigation. Bradenton Herald file photo

The assisted living facility operator who forced elderly patients with dementia and Alzheimers to move out of her facility, giving them less than 36 hours’ notice, will fight the $12,500 fine levied on her last month by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

Rudy’s Agape House administrator and owner Nancy Cushman has opted to take the case before the Florida Division of Administration Hearings, AHCA press secretary Shelisha Coleman said. AHCA is the state agency responsible for oversight on the state’s assisted living facilities.

“The case is in litigation,” Coleman said.

Cushman now faces an expanded Department of Children and Family Services investigation beyond the adult protection investigation initiated shortly after Cushman’s actions went public. DCF confirmed it knows of allegations that Cushman is adopting a child of an employee who lost custody of the child, in order to illegally keep them together.

“I spoke with our child welfare professionals regarding the situation and they are aware,” DCF Suncoast Region Communications Director Natalie Harrell said.

State statutes mandating confidentiality of child abuse investigations prevents the agency from commenting further, Harrell said. Reasons behind the mother’s loss of custody are unknown.

Cushman also may face additional legal and civil troubles related to the evictions. According to one resident’s relative, Jeanette Traylor, Cushman also has failed to meet a state regulation that requires her to refund the families within 45 days when a resident is forced to leave after having paid a month’s rent.

Cushman collected the rents from the families on March 1 knowing her eviction status and plans to move. Traylor is asking for reimbursement of pro-rated rent and bed and clothing reimbursement for bed bug infestation. The infestation was confirmed by another assisted living facility where the majority of the residents were placed after Cushman forced them out. The belongings had to be fumigated before being brought into the Cottages of Bradenton.

Cushman had 16 elderly residents under her care at her former rented location at 5426 18th St. W. and was undergoing eviction for nonpayment of rent.

In the meantime, Cushman was already planning to open her new Rudy’s Agape House II at 2104 55th Ave. W. According to AHCA records, Cushman applied for her new license last summer and court records indicate she stopped paying rent at her original facility in October.

Cushman never told the families of her residents that she was undergoing eviction nor were they told by Cushman she was already planning on opening a new, smaller facility. Cushman was ordered to be out of her first facility by March 13. She then told her residents they had to leave, even though the eviction order was only for her and the landlord had made arrangements for the residents to be under new care. Cushman failed to notify the families of that, as well.

AHCA fined Cushman for violating a regulation pertaining to the amount of time residents are required to be noticed, but AHCA is awaiting the outcome of DCF’s investigation before taking possible action on Cushman’s new license. She surrendered her license for her original facility on March 13, the day she forced residents from the facility, unnecessarily throwing the families’ lives into chaos.

Reached by the Bradenton Herald on Tuesday, Cushman would say only that the eviction process was taken illegally against her, and asked, “Are you still harping on this? I have no comment.”

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