Elderly Residents Die in Broward County Nursing Home that Lost Power During Hurricane Irma, Prompting Action by State Officials

The most tragic story to emerge from September’s Hurricane Irma was the death of numerous residents at a Broward County nursing home when its air conditioning system failed without a backup generator to keep residents cool.  According to a New York Times report, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills first lost power on September 10th.  Residents were then subjected to temperatures in excess of 100 degrees inside the facility for the next three days before it was finally evacuated.  The nursing home reportedly had a backup generator, but this generator did not connect to the facility’s air conditioning system.

 

After responding to three early morning September 13th calls about patients in distress, firefighters went throughout the entire nursing home and found three people were already dead due to complications from excessive heat.  The emergency responders then evacuated more than 150 residents to hospitals.  By that afternoon, five more residents had died.  This situation is even more tragic because the nursing home is across the street from one of Florida’s largest hospitals, which never lost power during the storm.  Nevertheless, the facility did not evacuate any residents until the deaths began early on September 13th.  This tragedy prompted Governor Rick Scott to issue rules requiring nursing homes to have generators capable of providing backup power for four days.  Unfortunately, due to a court challenge from nursing home industry lawyers, that rule is currently on hold pending resolution of the legal challenge.

 

The Nursing Home’s Response

 

According to another New York Times report, Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills representatives claimed to have spoken repeatedly with officials from both Florida Power & Light and multiple state government agencies before the evacuation.  Nursing home executives even claim to have called Florida Governor Rick Scott’s cell phone unsuccessfully three times prior to the eventual September 13th evacuation.  However, the governor’s office advised that the nursing home actually had reported as late as September 12th to the Florida state nursing home regulatory agency that both its heating and cooling systems were operational.  The facility neglected to report to state officials that its heating and cooling systems were not operational until after residents began dying of heat-related causes.  The nursing home’s administrator reportedly admitted to reporters that the nursing home did not call 911 to check on the facility’s resident until 1:30 a.m. on September 13th.  However, by then it was too late.  Five patients had suffered cardiac arrest or respiratory distress by 4:45 a.m.  Since then, a total of fourteen total deaths have been linked to the nursing home’s failure to have a backup generator.

 

Contact Lytal Reiter if A Relative Has Been Neglected at a Florida Nursing Home

 

If a family member or a loved one has been abused or neglected at a nursing home in Florida like the unfortunate residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, contact the experienced nursing home negligence lawyers of Lytal Reiter Smith Ivey & Fronrath today at (561) 655-1990.  We have successfully represented numerous nursing home residents as well as the families of those who have been injured or died as a result of abuse, neglect, or many of the other failures that plague many nursing home facilities in Florida.  Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your loved one’s rights under Florida law.