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Ruben Padgett


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Ruben Padgett
Series Title:
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
Physical Description:
1 sound file (34 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Padgett, Ruben
Anthony, Otis R
Black History Research Project of Tampa
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
African Americans -- Medical care   ( lcsh )
Nursing homes -- Florida -- Tampa   ( lcsh )
African Americans -- Florida   ( lcsh )
African Americans -- History -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )


Ruben Padgett discusses health care for elderly African Americans, describing the nursing home his family owns. Padgett served on the Hillsborough County Commission in the 1980s.
Interview conducted July 10, 1978.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Otis R. Anthony and members of the Black History Research Project of Tampa.
General Note:
Other interviewers for the Black History Research Project of Tampa were Fred Beaton, Joyce Dyer, Herbert Jones, and Shirley Smith.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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Resource Identifier:
aleph - 020800334
oclc - 436229690
usfldc doi - A31-00041
usfldc handle - a31.41
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COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 2009, University of South Florida. All rights, reserved This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrig hted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fo wler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.


1 Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida Oral History Project Oral History Program Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library Digital Object Identifier: A31 00041 Interviewee: Rub i n Padgett (RP) Interview by: Fred Beaton (FB ) Interview date: July 10, 1978 Interview location: Unknown Transcribed by: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Interview changes by: Kimberly Nordon Changes date: January 5, 2009 Final Edit by: Mary Beth Isaacson Final Edit date: February 9, 200 9 Rubin Padgett : My mother being a nurse and having a facility the nursing home facility needed help and I came into the business with her. Since that time we have expanded to a new facility, which is this present site and we continue to operate. I ha ve avail ed myself to learn about the business, through short courses, through St. Pete Junior College, University of Florida, University of Chicago, and other short courses that was put o n through the Health Care Association. And through reading books and so forth, and being involved. And a ssociating myself with all health care agencies that has to do with the type of work that I'm doing. F red B eaton : Okay Mr. Padgett, from your first say building that you had over an Palifox [Street] to this building her e, have there been a change in number of people you're getting ? W hat I mean by change, are you getting more say Black or White applicants now? RP: When we started this business, I saw the need for health care for all people. It wasn't this business in g overnment, it's not built to accommodate any special interest group. We built with the intent to s ervice the community and w e've done that. We had done it o n a racial of more Whites than Blacks, because of the environment which we live, and the population that there's been more Whites than there are Blacks in the area. However, some of the problems that we've encountered in this facility, though it being new and moderate and service has been conformable and most cases, and in all cases and in most cases su rpassed, where the other facilities that are run by Whites. We have been kind of hard pressed and getting private paying patients, White patients more less, because of the fact of the Black identification, it has affect us in that area. FB: Has there been any problems as far being certified or certification? RP: No we have not experienced any problem for a certification from regulatory bodies,


2 because we haven't been showing any favors either. We've had to meet the same criteria that any other facility a s such have had to reach. And we have met that criteria and maintain it, so we have not had a problem in that area. FB: Okay health care involved here, have there been any insistence of say people coming in wanting to change some of your ideas, or wantin g to run the business a little different? RP: I don't know what you mean by that. Because it's home owned and I mean it's family owned, and I don't have that problem. We only have the problem of changing the laws, and legislation that has caused some chan ges, and some have been for the better, I can't say that they all have been for the better, but some have been for the better. And of course to continue our license, we had to maintain and abide by rules and regulations that has been written. FB: Could yo u consider is there a big time laps e what I mean by time laps e okay when you first had the one over o n Palifox, where you have the one now, would you say that things have changed a whole lot, like you have to expand more as far as medicine, as far as care far as personnel? RP: Oh yes F irst place the building is about twice we are accommodate by twice as many people as we did over there. And as I say it's a far crime different from what we were accustom ed to as to wha t we are now. And the more dollars the federal and s tate government put into any type of business, the more laws and rules and regulation you have to abide by. And we have witness ed a complete change in the health care system, and that's not unusual, not only in this place, but it's true in all health care phases. Things that you once did and things that you are doing it ultimately from year to year, so that's not usual in this facility anymore than it is in any other. FB: How is turnover for individuals? RP: As far as patients or as emplo yees? FB: Patients and employees both. RP: Well we have been fortunate to have a pretty stable amount of employees. Now our patients, what goals and goals of any health care facility, is to get people back into society, into the community T hat's goals with every doctor I think, and I think everybody in health care. Because they are penalty enough people who need the s ervice, and if you rely on if your goals aren't to get the people back into society, you want to have a facility available for new people coming in. However, we do have people who have been here some have been here for six, seven, eight, years. But it's not the intent to keep people h ere for the rest of their lives; the intent is to put them back into society. However, we recognize the fact that some will never be able to function on their own, or even in any society and their community as they once have. So while we recognize that fact, our aims and goals are to still get the people back into the community.


3 FB: Mr. Padgett can you expand on some of the o ngoing programs that you have within your nursing home? RP: Well we try to have over and above the regular nursing care, and following the regulatory requirements for patients far nursing care is concern. We try to and have activities tha t would enhance our patients, and we do have which is mandatory. Of course we had it before it was mandatory, an activity director, that o n individual basi s try and plan activity for each resident or patient, so that boredom would not se t in. And we tried to have a valet and affective reorientation program, to try and bring alertness to many patients. And we find that this is e ffective by proper meal, proper dieting, proper medication, that this we achieve some of this, however we don't achieve it all. But in many of these cases the reason for this senility that get sometimes get increasingly worst is alike of proper diet, alike proper medication, alike of either one of these oral medication and then the dieting improper diet will create or continue the det rition. So combining the two we are able to get people restored back, and get back in the community. And we have several programs, one the senior citizens program that visitation and we have a regular person o n staff that does nothing but plan activity an d relate on a one to one basis with the patients. FB: Okay Mr. Padgett according to the laws and the laws that got passe d, what is the position of the f ederal government s ay far as the nursing homes nowa days? It seems like striking down a whole lot of o bstacles, particularly monies that the patients use to have, can you clear that up in anyway? RP: I know if I understand your question correctly, if you are talking about patients funds that they had to use for their personal use, they never had enough to meet their personal needs, in many cases because of the fact. For instance a person that been smoking cigarette for say sixty or seventy years and h is only allowable personal income is $25.00 a month, where we are talking about now a patient that the f ede ral government participate in paying his care here. Now I'm not talking about a private patient, but where a person 's only income for his personal use is only $25.00 a month, and that person wh o has smoked cigarette or dipped sn uff or whatever, his habit a re very difficult to break, but it's even more difficult for him to continue to keep them up A t the rate of cigarettes or for instance cigars at that price $25.00 just doesn't go very far. Especially when that $25.00 is suppose d to buy his clothing, his p ersonal e ffects that he needs, and also his cigarette s and other things such as cosmetic, and those type of things that he desires it doesn't go very far to cover that. So as a result we do have certainly prepared low from groups, church groups, voluntar y group that furnish something cosmetic s and so but very few furnish cigarettes or other things that's much a part of that person as his clothing. We do have a problem in that area, because of that reason. FB: Are any policies pertaining to say different programs like the Sunday programs ; is this an o ngoing procedure for Sundays, say everybody get together something like this? RP: We have several churches that comes in and put o n programs and they are not all done o n Sundays. We have a group that comes i n o n Saturdays, we have a group that


4 comes in o n Wednesdays and of course there other type spiritual groups and other things that come in. There is school kids that come in and put programs on plays, and some (inaudible) just have clubs and they have had some professional singers that come in sang sometime during the night A bout three times a week we have church services out here about the unity, equal o n at night. On Sundays we have two groups sometimes three that come in and have religious services, but every Sunday we have at least two religious ser vices here. We have the C atholic priest come out so very rel igious services is not impaired. P lus the fact there are some church group that pick their members up and take them to church those who able to go So there are persons who do not suffer when they go into nursing homes most nursing homes and especially this one, f or the like of spiritual guidance. FB: Mr. Padgett what effect do the Black community have as a whole here ? D o they come and volunteer their services and volunteer are most of your main concern is your staff? RP: Now we have volunteer groups, we have I hate to say we do not have as many black volunteer groups as we have White, and of course that there's a reason for that. Most of the Bla ck people in this area have to work for a living and do not have the time. B ut we do have some volunteer b lacks that commit o n a n almost daily basis and do what they can and bring in cheer or they're singing or whatever. But we do hav e concentration of Bl ack groups. N ow we have also White groups that come in and there's no discrimination here in this facility by any of the groups that come in, whether they be Black or White ; they offer their services in volunteers, and they participate with all patients there I am not and would not permit be it Black or White to come in and segregate themselves from any patient, whether it be Black patients or White patients. So we do have participation; we don't have as much as we like, bu t we do have quite a bite Aro und the holidays seemly we have more, but we have volunteers from the University of South Florida, we have volunteers from the high schools, we have volunteers from the junior high schools and they do offer their services. B ut o n a patient to patient basi s we don't have any set pattern A lso the Hillsborough H igh the school system furnish us some activity person that comes in here and reads the paper every day a day l ate and he's a paid professional that comes in a nd visit with the patients and render h is services. We have bingo games, we have the Tampa Public Library that shows movies once a week, we show movies here twice a week and we have a very good activity program going M ost of it is done by volunteers. FB: Okay Mr. Padgett, what would be your advice to the younger kids that would like to go into the health care? RP: I think there's no in this aspect, there's no more rewarding field than this I know it's very difficult I t was difficult for me to relate to eighty year old people you know fift een years ago, sixteen maybe eighteen I don't remember exactly ; it's been about eighteen years when I started. Very difficult for me to relate to older pe ople.


5 But in the health field pe r se, I was just recently at a meeting in Louisville, Kentucky last week to be exact and I was watching a Black it was a Black program like Black Perspectives here I was well pleased to he a r that they were trying to encourage Blacks to go into the health field by either getting a job or supplementing their jobs or getti ng volunteers to go into health work. I think that this we have through our association and me personally have been trying to get this done through the schools here. There's a great great shortage of nurses Black and White. I think the time to start is not when a kid get s in college, I think some of the things far as schools are concerned, that the counselors are not guiding many of the students in the right way, by not guiding them in the health field. Secondly I think that there are not enough scho ols available in the state of Florida to furnish t he needs to be met in our state, e specially in gerontology In this program in Louisville they were concerned about Black doctors ; there were only fifteen I understand in Louisville, Kentucky N ow there are far less than that here in Blacks, and I'm real concerned because there hasn't been any young or physicians moving into this area. There's only I gues s you are aware of them Dr. Jackson, Dr. She e h y and Dr. Andrews, and Dr. Smith A nd most of these ph ysicians I may have missed one oh yeah a couple dentists : Dr. Smith, Dr. Wright, Dr. Hewitt and I think I missed one o r two. But most of these people I don't think it s but one or two maybe three of them a r e less than fifty years old. And I'm very muc h concerned as to what is going to happen as far a s doctors and Black doctors or Black professional s who might be dentists or what have you in that field, because we have suffered here because of lack of Black doctors. It would be very difficult for anot her Black facility, because all of the patients have been admitted through a physician and may be a White doctor will choose White facility or White owned facilities, rather than choose this one. For that purpose it would very difficult for a Black facilit y or a facility such as this one, without having the Black s to support it. In the health care field every facet of medicine kind of embraces the other, and when you don't have we've had that problem for getting Blacks, far as getting private patients whe n even though our facility was superior, the black skin still carry the s tigma even in business, and now as a result we suffer from having some of the private paying patients. Now I would encourage I would hope that in this area they would be able to do as Louisville has done, and get funding to train people or get them involved Black people in medicine and the health care field. One of the things far as the school even though getting them interested and getting them involved still very difficult, becaus e it s not enough schools. For instance the nursing schools here they are adequate good schools, but they are always at their quot a. I t's my understanding that medical schools here it's just almost impossible to get a student in, regardless of his abili ties. But far as the nursing portion is the statistic and I think these this is something that the school system should look at T he statistic s would not justify you spending a lot of money for another nursing school. Now I admit someone might disagree w ith me, and I hope they do, because I hope there's one coming out there expanded. The reason for that is we have several thousand nurses


6 that come to Florida and register a license in Florida only practice two to three months during the Winter months. And there are other thousands of others who are pregnant or retiring nurses I know right now ten or twelve who are retiring still maintain a license never intend to practice again. But it's something about getting a license that once you get it you don't wa nt to turn it lo o s e But those statistic also make it seem unfeasible to expand the school system far as nurses are concern ed. C onsequently a person be it Black of White who wants to go into nursing find s it very difficult. Because the schools and avail ability is not there A nd th e same way with physicians, there 're just not enough physicians S o for that reason I would encourage anybody Black or White who want s to go into a fast changing field and a more interesting field to investigate the possibili ty B ut like anything else if they have the proper guidance and career counseling and so forth, the interest will not be there. FB: Do you foresee any changes in the nursing field, say as far as new laws being implemented, say in the fut u r e ? They have a l aw we ll they haven't passed it, but they are trying to get one that somewhat tie their hands of the administrators of the nursing homes. RP: I'm chairman of the license board for nursing home administrators, so I'm not familiar with what you are talking about. When you say tie their hands, I think that there are when I finish I 'd like for you to elaborate o n what you are talking about. I think that there aren't enough laws o n the book s now to ensure that nursing homes ar e ran properly in every respect. E ven though the laws are there every legislature pass several laws related to nursing homes and other health care fields, seem ing ly because of the bad publicity, which in some cases are justified, but in more cases than none they are non justifiable. The la dy that just lef t out here was chairman of the o mnibus committee for this district and she resigned, because people just don't really understand what goes o n in nursing homes. And she did afford herself with i nformation and she didn't see the justificatio n in all of the land blasting of nursing homes that press and other people have done. Now the problem with the laws are not having enough people to enforce the laws I t's just like in California for instance Because of our P roposition 13, there is not g oing to be enough police and other people to enforce the laws that's o n the books, so having a law and no one to enforce it is just as bad as not having any at all. There are laws here o n the books already that can en sure good quality patient care in nursi ng homes in the s tate of Florida and by the way Florida has some of the best nursing homes there are, but the reimbursement is around the last of the s tate I mean in the country. But the laws are there ; it's very easy to pass laws, but having the people to enforce them is where the problem come. Far as administrator s are concerned we have enough laws to e nsure that administrator abide by and live up to the standards of the laws of nursing homes. But we don't have the investigators to do the work. Our boa rd is made up of working people and we just don't have the time to do the policing and it's the same way in other areas. FB: See what I was talking about was that we had interviewed several other nursing homes, and the administrators w ere compl aining a bout they didn't have the power really


7 to do so many things that they were to do. L ike one over at Ambrosia Nursing H ome was complaining about he was being reviewed about somehow ; he had it was a money situation. And he was complaining about the laws wer e stringent upon the allocation of money. RP: Well that is a problem, and I don't think when you talk about taking care of people now again I would like to say I know something about the history of nursing homes. I know when the county several years ago when they tried to open a nursing home and they were paying private entrepreneur $5.20 a day to operate a facility and to take care of people and when they tried it on their own, back at that time it cost them $18.00 a day. And they're have been some rum ors about state (inaudible) a nursing home for a polite program, I would like to see that done. Then the powers that be would understand more about what it actually take, to take care of patients T here are many of programs here that I would like to get in volved with, but the s tate pays a bare minimum and expect your best they can get for their dollar, which they have a right to expect. But they expect more and the public expect more than actually they are paying for. And when you look at a nursing home an d l ook at the situation of dealing and taking care of people and the paper work that goes on, many of the dollars that is spent for paperwork and not spent for the patient. Now secondly, the nursing homes can do and there are laws, it 's just what the s tat e want to pay for and they pay for bare minim um care, but the public is asking for more and the s tate is not pa ying for that. So the state cannot do the p ressure is coming from the public, so the s tate pass more laws instead of financing the program proper ly to take care, to meet the demands that the public is asking for. When you l ook at people in nursing homes, most people look at it the same way as you look at a person o n welfare. And it's unfortunate that we in America look at our old people that way an d there's very very little money appropriate d for people who build this country. Now as I say there are billions of dollars spent in the health care field, but the nursing homes aren't getting it. It's not and less than four percent of the dollar spent fo r Medicare and Medicaid goes to nursing homes and I think that very unproportional. Side 1 ends; side 2 begins. RP: The public is still demanding what is not there, what respect th e public is demanding what the s tate is not paying for and the state is p utting the blame o n the nursing homes which is unreal for them to do that, but that is what's being done. The i r refusal to fund the program properly they are putting the switching the hats and making nursing homes look like the black hats and they look lik e the white hats. But that's not the problem ; the laws and rules and regulations are not the problem. It's an old thing the dollar problem, and usually the people are legislators and what mi ght be not legislators, but non adapted citizens regards to wheth er it be children, whether it be mothers or whether it be older people, they do not like to spend money o n nonproductive citizens. Which I think is a crime, because if we all live long enough and people are living longer, we all are going to live end up in a facility of some kind. Be it nursing home, mental hospital, or what have you, we all are going to end up there if we live long enough.


8 Because there are very very few of us able to go out and have a nurse come in, or have the house care that this coupl e is once use to ; it's just not fair anymore. And while there is a trend to get people to stay in the i r homes longer, there still is going to be a need for facility that don't have anyone to stay, or don't have any home or can't take care of themselves. So I can't see the nursing home fading from the health care industry. The nursing homes have just like some other health care sit uations where they are the step child or the second class citizen, by the health care industry. But they are vastly needed and the y going to be here. FB: Okay Mr. Padgett. end of interview

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Padgett, Ruben.
Ruben Padgett
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Otis R. Anthony and members of the Black History Research Project of Tampa.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (34 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
Other interviewers for the Black History Research Project of Tampa were Fred Beaton, Joyce Dyer, Herbert Jones, and Shirley Smith.
Interview conducted July 10, 1978.
Ruben Padgett discusses health care for elderly African Americans, describing the nursing home his family owns. Padgett served on the Hillsborough County Commission in the 1980s.
Padgett, Ruben.
African Americans
x Medical care.
Nursing homes
z Florida
African Americans
African Americans
7 655
Oral history.
2 local
Online audio.
Anthony, Otis R.
Black History Research Project of Tampa.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Tampa Library.
4 856