Published: Sun, September 17, 2017
Culture | By Ray Hoffman

Legislators hurry to pass nursing home laws after Irma deaths

Legislators hurry to pass nursing home laws after Irma deaths

The facility was is just one of almost 700 nursing homes across the state, about 150 of which still lacked power as of Wednesday morning when the Hollywood Hills crisis occurred, according to the Florida Health Care Association.

The power company, however, said the nursing home bore at least some responsibility.

State and local officials said the nursing home had contacted them, but did not request any help for medical needs or emergencies.

"It was not a member of the Florida Health Care Association", said Kristen Knapp, with Florida Healthcare Association. 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.

Scott vowed to punish anyone found culpable in the deaths. "If they find that this facility was not meeting the state's high standards of care, they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law". Patients were treated for dehydration, breathing difficulties and other heat-related ills, authorities said.

Frum called her facility, Memorial Regional Hospital, to issue a mass casualty alert.

On Thursday, detectives were at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after receiving a search warrant to investigate the eight patients' deaths, which police believed were heat-related.

The nursing home said it took precautions before Irma hit, placing 10 spot coolers and fans around the facility, according to the timeline provided by Hill and Knowlton, the center's public relations firm.

The nursing home didn't experience a full-blown outage during the storm, but it did lose a transformer that powered its air conditioning.

They were loved ones: Bobby Owens, 84; Manuel Mario Mendieta, 96; Miguel Antonio Franco, 92; Estella Hendricks, 71; Gail Nova, 70; Carolyn Eatherly, 78; Betty Hibbard, 84; and Albertina Vega, 99. More than 300,000 customers in the county, or a third of the total, are still without power as of midday Wednesday.

After three "days of residents being forced to live in these deplorable and unsafe conditions", [Vega] "suffered intractable distress and died as a result of these appalling conditions".

Evangelina Moulder hired an attorney after her 93-year-old mother became severely dehydrated on Wednesday. The camera then pans over to show his wife, 89-year-old wife, lying on a separate hospital bed, also dressed in a hospital gown.

The woman who shot the video sent it to her sister, Carmen Veroy.

"She opened her eyes - she looked in my eyes- oh my God, that was the best thing that ever came into my soul", Craig said.

"There is no reason whatsoever those individuals should have been in a home that hot for that many days", Flores said.

"She hadn't really died, but she was gone", said Johnson, who later got the call that her friend had passed away.

The eight nursing-home residents who died were not the only seniors trapped by sketchy planning.

A spokesman for Scott's office, John Tupps, said "every call made to the governor from facility management was referred to the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health and quickly returned". The staff used fans, put cold towels and ice on patients and gave them cold drinks, he said.

The deaths have prompted authorities to question how the conditions at the nursing home lasted for so long.

The nursing home eventually evacuated all of its patients Wednesday morning at the order of the responding crews.

Broward County Mayor, Barbara Sharief informed that three people had already died inside the nursing home and the rest five died in hospital's emergency room.

The facility's administrator, Jorge Carballo, said in a statement that it was cooperating fully with authorities. "Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were affected", he added.

President Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma was "far greater" than expected, "at least in certain locations".

The nursing home was bought at a bankruptcy auction two years ago after its previous owner went to prison for Medicare fraud, according to news reports at the time of the sale.

It's unclear when the facility first reached out to first responders.

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