Five Dead at Florida Nursing Home After Irma Cut Power

Lloyd Doyle
September 17, 2017

While counties claim nursing homes fall on priority lists for power restorations, we've discovered the state does not consider nursing homes to be high priority centers like hospitals.

"Kristin and I are saddened by this news and send our deepest sympathies to the victim's family and friends", Gov. Roy Cooper said in a news release.

"While our center did not lose power during the storm, it did lose one transformer that powers the air conditioning unit".

About 1.5 million homes and businesses in Florida and Georgia remained without power on Friday (Sept 15) after Hurricane Irma, including 46 of Florida's almost 700 nursing homes caught in the deadly storm's path.

At the Hollywood nursing home, Jean Lindor, a kitchen worker, said through a Haitian Creole translator that the air conditioner had not been working since the storm and it had been hot inside. "You go, you check on them, you make sure they have water and food and that's it", he said. As of Wednesday, almost 60 percent of customers had electricity restored, according to Florida Power & Light. "Some of them looked compromised", said the hospital's Chief Nursing Officer Judy Frum.

The governor said he has ordered a probe by state authorities.

Tuesday, however, saw no change.

The overall death toll from Irma climbed to 81 on Wednesday, with several hard-hit Caribbean islands accounting for more than half the fatalities, and officials continued to assess damage inflicted by the second major hurricane to strike the US mainland this year. Communication with the staff had always been like "pulling teeth", so it did not strike him as unusual that they had not been returning his calls since Sunday. Nursing home officials again complained they were in need of help from FPL.

Kitchen worker Jean Lindor told the newspaper a generator allowed staff to cook but did not provide the facility with air conditioning.

The first rescue crews responded to a call from the facility around 3 a.m. Wednesday, for a patient in cardiac arrest. By 5 a.m., several patients at the nursing home were dead, and by 6 a.m. the rest were evacuated.

"I just feel that they were neglected and [the facility] didn't take care of what they needed to take care of". Florida Senator Marco Rubio also attended the briefing.

"The tragic and senseless loss at Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center is the subject of a criminal homicide investigation by law enforcement", the DOH noted.

When asked why the patients hadn't been taken across the street to Memorial Regional hospital when temperatures became unsafe, Hollywood city spokeswoman Rayelin Storey said, "We can't get inside the heads of the staff and the administrators of this facility".

"In this case, we met with Broward in early March".

In Coral Gables, an apartment building was evacuated after officials said its lack of power made it unsafe for elderly tenants. After the second call, fire officials called the state Department of Children and Families to report concerns about the facility.

More than 100 patients at the nursing home were evacuated on Wednesday along with 18 patients from a nearby facility that was cleared due to the criminal investigation, Hollywood officials said.

Older people can be more susceptible to heat because their bodies do not adjust to temperatures as well as young people.

But administration officials at the facility in Hollywood Hills, 20 miles north of Miami, have pushed back against claims that they did not take proper steps to ensure their residents' safety.

Recovery efforts in Florida have been made hard thanks to the rising temperatures there, combined with the ongoing struggle to restore power.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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