Our dumb state
Yet another installment of our semi-regular compendium of idiocy
Published: December 2, 2010
Private nursing homes are the bread and butter of the old Florida economy, but like most under-regulated food products, when left to fester and rot they become a breeding ground for squirming horror. John Stumpp, a 76-year-old veteran who had lost his eye to cancer, was whiling away his glory years at the Gainesville Health Care Center in Pahokee, Fla.; that center, one in a chain of health care centers that received horrible ratings from state regulators, is operated by Okeechobee executive Maxcine Darville, who was known to live a lifestyle of “luxury cars and hot tubs,” according to The Palm Beach Post. Back in September, during a routine visit to a Veterans Administra-tion facility, doctors peeled back Stumpp’s eye-cover only to find that his socket had become a sort of nursing home for baby flies: maggots.
Not coincidentally, just a month earlier the Gainesville Health Care Center was cited by the Agency for Health Care Administration for similar treatment on an unnamed client. That client, according to the report filed, was “often uncooperative and refused to allow staff to change his dressing on the second shift 43 out of 57 times.” But the nursing home failed to notify the client’s doctor or legal representative, and is now bathing in the scalding water of a state investigation.
DEAD LETTER OFFICE
Normally Florida reserves its unbelievable child abuse extravaganzas for the living, gleefully cheering on its daughters as they scratch each other’s eyes out for their parent’s amusement. But in the case of Jacksonville’s Harper family, the cruelty inflicted on their daughter was far more morbid. Angela Harper died in a car wreck when she was 12, way back in 1988. So it was odd when the postman started delivering “stacks of bridal magazines, working mother publications, college inquiries, vacation guides, information on fertility clinics and credit card applications,” according to The Florida Times Union, addressed to Angela at the Harper’s home – where Angela had never lived – in 2004. It was as if their daughter had taken on a second life as a demographic expectation.
Turns out the Harpers had an enemy. Mark Wilcox, 50, had been harboring a grudge for more than a decade. In 1992, Mr. Harper fired Wilcox from his extermination business after repeated customer complaints; in the intervening years, Wilcox took a turn for the crazy and was, according to The Florida Times-Union, under “past and frequent psychiatric care.” All it took was a little dabbling in mail fraud to soothe Wilcox’s angst, and though in court he refused to admit exactly why playing out Angela Harper’s afterlife in the form of glossy magazines was a good idea, he did offer that “he didn’t realize how much grief he would bring to the Harpers and never meant to be cruel.” He was sentenced to six months of home detention and two years of probation. In both cases, stamps will be available.
Harper’s mother didn’t buy Wilcox’s shoulder shrug. “I mean he even sent information to my daughter on how to become a funeral home director,” she told the Times-Union. “How can you not consider that cruel?”
CAUGHT IN THE THROAT
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