Florida Nursing Home Where Six Died Had a History of Safety Issues

Saul Bowman
September 16, 2017

Irma, which made landfall Sunday morning in the Florida Keys as a Category Four hurricane, had triggered orders for more than six million people to flee to safety, one of the biggest evacuations in U.S. history.

The transformer that powered the air conditioning at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, a Florida nursing home, suffered a power failure.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson called the six deaths in Hollywood "an inexcusable tragedy" and called on authorities to get to the bottom of it.

Rescue crews were called to the nursing home around 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Crews found several patients in varying degrees of medical distress and immediately began treatment. "It's gonna take months, maybe years to get this cleaned up", said Holley, who ignored orders to evacuate and braved the storm on Cudjoe Key.

All 115 patients from the rehabilitation center were evacuated to hospitals, officials said. "Every facility that is charged with caring for patients must take every action and precaution to keep their patients safe". "What we have been generally treating is dehydration, severe respiratory conditions and heat exhaustion".

"I have nobody", she said. Almost 3.8 million power customers in the state still lacked service early Wednesday as the mammoth effort to restore electricity in the often hot and humid region continues.

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief told NBC Miami that three people died at the facility and the other two died as the patients arrived at the hospital.

Florida residents who evacuated ahead of the storm were facing lengthy traffic jams meanwhile as they returned to check out their homes after days in shelters or with friends or family.

The Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families have now launched investigations into the facility, and one relative of a longtime resident of the nursing home says she hopes the owners are stopped from ever allowing this to happen again.

Statewide, 64 nursing homes were still waiting Thursday for full power, according to the Florida Health Care Association. "How am I going to last here?" she said, as a tear rolled down her cheek. "It points to the need for having plans in advance when it comes to emergency preparation".

The deaths may be due to the loss of the home's air-conditioning after Hurricane Irma struck Sunday, according to CNN affiliate WPLG. Broward County hadn't identify this nursing home as a "top-tier, critical infrastructure" facility, he said. Hollywood Police announced Wednesday they had started a criminal investigation.

A day earlier Johnson visited Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, and met with some of the almost 1,000 British military personnel sent to bolster relief efforts and security. Jon added: "As of Tuesday, [the facility] was reporting that everything was OK, that they were using portable air conditioners and fans".

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