Florida Nursing Home Potentially Liable for Eight Deaths

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Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

Evacuation of Over 100 Residents Following Hurricane Irma

Eight individuals were reported deceased at a Hollywood, Florida nursing home leading to the evacuation of more than 100 people were evacuated. This, following massive Hurricane Irma that left many Caribbean islands and parts of Florida decimated.

Conditions at the Hollywood facility left residents suffering from intense heat that was caused by a lack of electricity when deadly Hurricane Irma swept through the state, according to Fox News/The Associated Press. Irma moved on from Florida; however, dangers caused by the storm linger, such as carbon monoxide poisoning and heat-related incidents that were the result of no air conditioning. Millions remain waiting for power restoration.

Fox News reported that officials in Hollywood, Florida said that least eight people died and another 115 people were evacuated from the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which is located about 20 miles north of Miami. At least eight patients from the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center are now confirmed dead.

The medical examiner’s office also confirmed that three of the victims were found dead early after Hurricane Irma moved on. The other five died either at the hospital or on their way to the hospital. The victims were anywhere from 71 to 99 years of age. “We’re conducting a criminal investigation inside,” Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said. “We believe at this time they may be related to the loss of power in the storm. We’re conducting a criminal investigation, not ruling anything out at this time,” Police Chief Sanchez added, according to Fox News.

The attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP believe that all people should be treated with dignity, especially the fragile elderly who are unable to protect themselves. Our firm has long been committed to ensuring appropriate, compassionate care nursing home facility residents and to fight for their justice when proper care has not been given.

Deaths Believed to be Heat Related

Police Chief Sanchez said investigators believe the deaths were heat-related, adding that it was a “sad event.” In a statement, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills called the incident an “unfortunate and tragic outcome” of a “prolonged power failure,” and said the home is cooperating with authorities, wrote Fox News/The Associated Press. “The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has evacuated this morning due to a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility’s air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane,’’ said Jorge Carballo, administrator of the facility, Fox News/The Associated Press reported. “Facility administration has been in communication with Florida Power & Light and the Governor’s office since the beginning of Hurricane Irma, and is cooperating fully with relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate and tragic outcome. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were affected,” the facility added.

The Hollywood Police and Hollywood Fire Rescue received a call at approximately 4:00 a.m. at the facility, and found “several patients in varying degrees of medical distress,” according to city officials, Fox News/The Associated Press reported. Police Chief Sanchez said that officers were assigned to check 42 assisted living facilities and nursing homes in Hollywood to “make sure they are in sufficient care of the elderly,” according to Fox News/The Associated Press.

The nursing home did have a generator, but it remains unknown if the generator was functional, WSVN reported.

A caseworker named said that he arrived at the facility to check on a patient of his who was 80-year-old and diagnosed with dementia. The caseworker told Fox News that he was not sure if she was among the dead. “I’m very concerned. I’m like a family member to her,” he said.

Florida Governor Rick Scott released a statement in which he described the situation as “unfathomable,” and said he is “going to aggressively demand answers” as to what happened at the Rehabilitation Center. Governor Scott also said he ordered an investigation and will hold those responsible accountable. The governor issued a release indicating that he is demanding answers on the deaths in Broward that read, in part that, “I am absolutely heartbroken to learn of news reports of the deaths of multiple individuals in a nursing home in Broward County. Protecting the lives of Floridians is my top priority and that’s why we have worked all week to help Floridians prepare and respond to Hurricane Irma. I am going to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place. Although the details of these reported deaths are still under investigation, this situation is unfathomable. Every facility that is charged with caring for patients must take every action and precaution to keep their patients safe—especially patients that (sic) are in poor health. I have directed the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families to immediately work with local law enforcement to conduct an investigation, and if they find that anyone wasn’t acting in the best interests of their patients, we will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law. I am also asking available first responders to immediately check in with the healthcare facilities in their area to make sure nursing homes and assisted living facilities are able to keep their residents safe.”

The release also noted that, “All nursing home facilities are required to have an emergency management plan. For nursing homes, this plan is required to be submitted and kept on hand by county emergency management officials. As part of the licensure process, AHCA confirms that the facility’s emergency plan has been submitted to local officials.” The AHCA is the American Health Care Act of 2017.

Senator Bill Nelson (Democrat-Florida) tweeted that “the events that occurred at the Rehabilitation Center are ‘inexcusable.’” He has asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to look into the situation. “Talked to HHS Sec. Price today & asked him to do everything in his power to keep FL’s most vulnerable safe, esp. those in nursing homes,” he sent in a tweet. “I also sent him names of nursing homes without power so we can quickly get power restored and keep our seniors safe,” the senator added.

According to the official Medicare website, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills is rated two out of five stars and is indicated to have a low health inspection rating due to 11 “health deficiencies,” according to Fox News. Deficiencies cited ranged from the facility’s food selection not meeting nutritional standards or needs, to residents who were not given the ability to choose their own activities, schedules, or health care, to lack of health assessments made on residents by qualified professionals.

Filing a Nursing Home Lawsuit

If you or someone you know suffered injuries related to the negligence or abuse at a nursing home you may have valuable legal rights. Our nursing home lawyers offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).