Riverside Cottages owner looks to the legislature for relief in staffing requirements

For St Augustine assisted living facility owners Michelle and Robert Carmines, what happens or doesn’t happen over the next 60 days in Tallahassee could have a significant impact on two of their top business concerns: health care liability and the workforce.

Even before the 2022 legislative session kicked off Tuesday, state lawmakers were addressing issues related to senior care, including Sen. Ben Albritton’s proposal to provide more flexibility in staffing requirements that were put in place about two decades ago.

“Probably the biggest issue for us as a small business owner — and I think it’s whether you’re in senior living or in construction restaurant business or anything — we’ve got to codify this liability issue when it comes to the pandemic,” Robert Carmines said in a recent interview received by Historic City News.  “It’s my understanding that we have something that’s in place until March, but we’re trying to get that extended until December of 2023.”

On November 4, 2021, the Joint Legislative Budget Commission approved providing $99.5 million in state and federal money to nursing homes over a three-month period through increased Medicaid payment rates. 

When asked if they are following any other major issues in their industry, the co-owners of Riverside Cottages, a 72-bed assisted living facility in St. Augustine, said that they are paying attention to workforce issues.

“All of us are facing it. We’re not sure exactly why we’re having issues. Our labor pool is weak right now,” Robert Carmines responded.  “So, we’re trying to work on things like that to look at some of the educational tools that we have out there to enhance that. We’re just having a problem with our workforce issue.”

Carmines is eager to see what the upcoming legislative session can do, from a regulatory point of view, to figure out ways to make sure that everybody is providing a first-rate, professional, trained person to all their patients — all the way from direct care through the management system.