Residents, workers fight to save University Village Nursing Center

Aaron Mesmer reports

- Residents and workers of a nursing home in Tampa are planning to take their desperate pleas to Tallahassee, hoping to convince state leaders to let the facility to remain open.

The future of University Village Nursing Center has been uncertain for several months, as the facility's ownership company, TR & SNF, Inc., remained entrenched in a legal battle over alleged unpaid debts to vendors.

On Aug. 3, however, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration ordered the facility to close down by Sept. 3 following a judge's ruling the owner's couldn't afford to operate it.

According to workers at the facility, about 80 residents could be forced to find a new place to live. Dozens of employees would also be out of a job.

"I don't know what I'd do if I'd lose my home," said Nettie Rossi, who has lived there for a year. "What am I going to do? Where am I going to go to find a place like this? I'm settled here."

The embattled facility has also dealt with reports of deteriorating conditions which residents largely blame on the owners and uncertainty surrounding the business.

At a news conference Wednesday, residents, workers, advocates and city leaders joined together to urge to state to hold off on shutting down University Village.

"Courts aside and contracts aside, peoples' lives are at stake and that's what the issue is here," said Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione. "We need to take care of our citizens, our elderly, our workers and those who care for our most vulnerable. They should not be kicked to the curb over a  financial deal or over a contract."

About a dozen people affected by the possibly closure are planning to head to Tallahassee to meet  with AHCA members.

Their message is simple:

"Please, please, please, please keep them in their home!" said Joy Steeler, a University Village employee.

"Open up your eyes. Look around. September third, this is who you'll have on the curb," added Brenda Young, who has worked there for 24 years.

A lot of the residents also face the possibility of losing the tens of thousands of dollars they invested in University Village.

For Rossi, it's more about losing her home, friends and people who care for her.

"We're old. I mean, we're really old, 80 and 90-years-old and we don't have a lot of time," she said. "We know we have to take care of ourselves somehow and they help us to take care of ourselves."

FOX 13 left messages with TR & SNF and AHCA but had not heard back.

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