The Hollywood Police Department has opened a criminal investigation into the deaths.
Workers at the facility said Hurricane Irma caused the air conditioning to fail Sunday and they struggled to keep residents cool with fans, cold towels and ice. Homebound seniors found help from charities, churches and authorities.
By then, the main air conditioning system had been down for 53 hours, and within four hours the first of eight residents had died. As of Saturday, 35 nursing homes and 225 assisted living facilities were still utilizing generators. Let’s be clear: This facility is located across the street from one of Florida’s largest hospitals, which never lost power and had fully operating facilities. Headquartered in Juno Beach, Florida, NextEra Energy’s principal subsidiaries are Florida Power & Light Company, which serves almost 5 million customer accounts in Florida and is one of the largest rate-regulated electric utilities in the United States, and NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which, together with its affiliated entities, is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun. “We’re supposed to be on a priority list, and it doesn’t come and it doesn’t come and, frankly, it’s very scary”.
“We took part in emergency management preparedness calls with local and state emergency officials, other nursing homes and health regulators”, he said. They don’t sweat as much and they are more likely to take medication that affects body temperature.
“At any point in time they could have evacuated anyone they thought was in danger”, she said Saturday. “We all have elderly people in facilities, and we all know we depend on those people in those facilities to care for a vulnerable elderly population”. What are you going to do?
“We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep our seniors safe during this hard time”, he said.
Though the number of outages has dropped, some 2.3 million homes and businesses were without power Thursday afternoon across the state.
Schools in some areas made plans to welcome back students.
Including the nursing home deaths, at least 26 people in Florida have died under Irma-related circumstances, and six more in SC and Georgia, many of them well after the storm passed. The death toll across the Caribbean stood at 38.
Most of the eight residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills who died had been treated for respiratory distress, dehydration, and heat-related issues, officials said.
The ex-husband of 71-year-old victim Gail Nova said her devastated family believes the facility should lose its license. She said she last heard from her sister two days earlier and learned the air conditioning was not working. In nearby Broward County, 300,000 were without electricity.
Early Wednesday morning is when the residents of the facility started dying. Eight people died and 145 patients had to be moved out of the stifling-hot facility, many of them on stretchers or in wheelchairs.
Calls to the owner and other officials at the Hollywood home were not immediately returned, but the facility’s administrator, Jorge Carballo, said in a statement that it was “cooperating fully with relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate and tragic outcome”.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday night that he directed the Agency for Health Care Administration to terminate the center as a provider for Medicaid, which provides health care for low-income individuals and families.
In response to Defede’s report, FPL released a statement that said the facility was supposed to have an operational generator.
State records showed problems with fire and safety standards, as well as more serious issues with generator maintenance and testing, according to February 2016 reports by Florida Agency for Health Care Administration inspectors.