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Ombudsman Under Investigation

The top advocate for Florida’s elderly and nursing home residents was placed on immediate administrative leave Friday.  The Department of Elder Affairs ordered Harold J. “Jim” Crochet to remain in his home during work hours, according to the Miami Herald, and employees of the agency were ordered not to communicate with him or the media. But the agency's spokeswoman, Ashley Marshall, would not say why.

Volunteers in the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program have been critical of Crochet, saying he tied their hands in their inspections of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities and that he seemed too close to the industry. 

His predecessor, Brian Lee, was ousted in 2011 by the then-new administration of Gov. Rick Scott. Consumer advocates said he was removed because he was too outspoken to suit the Scott appointees. Calls for a federal investigation went nowhere.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.