Eight dead after Irma-induced power failure at south Florida nursing home

Eight patients at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills died Wednesday after a power failure caused by Hurricane Irma took out the facility’s air conditioning. The Hollywood Police Department is criminally investigating the fatalities with the help of the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Family.

“I am going to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a statement. “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 are in poor health.”

The nursing home is located across the street from Memorial Regional Hospital. City officials received a call early Wednesday morning about a patient in distress and, realizing the facility was without air conditioning, moved the patient to the hospital. A Memorial Regional nurse walked over to the center at 6 a.m. and contacted hospital officials to evacuate the rest of the patients. Three people were pronounced dead at the scene, three others passed away at the hospital, and two more patients were reported dead later Wednesday afternoon.

“There was no air conditioning,” Randy Katz, chairman of the hospital’s department of emergency medicine, said. “The temperatures, particularly on the second floor, were extremely hot … there were a number of patients who looked like they were in distress.”

It’s unclear whether the facility was without any power or just without air conditioning. Florida Power and Light, the state’s largest utility, said Wednesday that Broward County did not, during a hurricane planning meeting earlier in 2017, list The Rehabilitation Center as “critical infrastructure” where restoring power is a top priority after a storm. The facility has a health inspection rating of “much below average” by the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration.

The center was “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,” Jorge Carballo, the nursing home’s administrator, said in a statement obtained by the Miami Herald. “Unfortunately, early this morning several patients experienced distress and there were three fatalities at the facility and three at the hospital they were transferred to.”

Unfortunate. Yeah, dude. Some might even say fucking tragic.

The Memorial Healthcare System is currently treating over 150 patients evacuated from the nursing home at different hospitals in its network. About 3.7 million people in Florida remain without power after Irma, emergency officials said Wednesday.

[Washington Post | screenshot: Inside Edition]

Tags: irma