Legislators hurry to pass nursing home laws after Irma deaths

Frederick Owens
September 17, 2017

The shocking news that eight people who were residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Hollywood, Fla., died at the facility in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma has sparked many questions about how such a thing could happen.

The causes of death are still being investigated, Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez said. He did not elaborate. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has ordered an "immediate moratorium" to prevent it from receiving any patients; officials are also checking on other assisted-care facilities and evacuating them if they've lost power.

"When asked if they had any medical needs or emergencies, (the nursing home) did not request assistance or indicate any medical emergency existed", Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said in a statement.

Over 100 people were evacuated from the Hollywood Hills facility on Wednesday after days without air conditioning.

Fifty-seven residents were moved from a suburban Fort Lauderdale assisted-living facility without power to two nearby homes where power had been restored. Also yet to be determined is how long these vulnerable people - either residents or recovering from surgery - were left in such stifling heat and, most important, why.

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. A Tampa man died after the chain saw he was using to remove trees recoiled and cut his carotid artery.

Elsewhere, Irma has been blamed for four deaths in SC and two in Georgia. He hewed toward hearty handshakes and enthusiastic promises rather than hugs and tears, but he was well received by people grappling with the storm.

It barreled into the Florida Keys island chain on Sunday, packing sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour (215 km per hour) before plowing up the Gulf Coast of the state and dissipating. Her 58-year-old sister had been here 10 years.

She said she had yet to see any state or federal agencies or utility companies working on the ground yet.

The electricity is out in her condo, so there's no television for news.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said last week it was "insensitive" to address global warming at this time.

In Florida on Thursday, Trump couldn't help but insert some political discourse into his remarks.

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For many of Irma's victims, the days ahead are likely to be soggy, sweaty, dark and discouraging. So as a precaution we're moving everybody over so they'll be more comfortable.

"We are devastated by these losses".

Paulburn Bogle, a member of the housekeeping staff, said employees fought the lack of air conditioning with fans, cold towels, ice and cold drinks for patients.

After the investigation commenced, the Broward Medical Examiner's Office picked up the body from the funeral home so that an autopsy can be conducted.

"They were sick already". They're not going to leave now.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which regulates nursing homes, gives the Hollywood center a below-average rating, two stars on its five-star scale.

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.

Flora Mitchell, a 61-year-old Hollywood resident, came down to the center to find her sister around noon Wednesday. "While our center did not lose power during the storm, it did lose one transformer that powers the air conditioning unit". "We don't know when FPL is gonna get us up". "We cared for them like family".

Calls to the owner and other officials at the home were not immediately returned. NBC 6 is working to identify the woman and check on her condition.

"This is the most stressful situation I've lived in my life", said her daughter Madeleine Alvarez said.

Some 3.1 million homes and businesses, representing close to one-third of the state's population, were without power on Thursday in Florida and neighboring states.

He vowed to return to the state, where millions of residents remain without power and areas remain inaccessible to recovery crews. It actually hit the Keys with a-it was a Category 5.

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