MiamiHerald / Following the deaths of 14 residents at a Hollywood nursing home, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson plans to draft legislation designating an official in each state to oversee nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Florida actually has such a position, as do other states. It’s called an ombudsman. But the previous occupant in Florida, Brian Lee, was pushed out by Gov. Rick Scott. Lee, who had a reputation for aggressive inspections, ran afoul of the industry and the governor. Critics say the current Florida ombudsman program has curbed its ambitions considerably.

After the incident at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, where 14 residents died when the air conditioning failed after Irma, Wilson said she’s looking to strengthen oversight. The ombudsman idea was aired after a hearing Thursday at Miami-Dade College’s North Campus on disaster preparation.

Wilson, a Miami Gardens Democrat, said she organized the hearing to get expert opinions on what needs to change to protect frail and dependent people in the future. Mental health, emergency operations, fire rescue and nursing home personnel lined a table opposite Wilson and other elected officials.


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