Trump thanks Florida first responders for Irma work

Lynette Rowe
September 16, 2017

US President Donald Trump visits hurricane-ravaged Florida on Thursday where police are probing the deaths of eight patients inside a nursing home as Hurricane Irma left millions in the state without power.

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.

One resident had been taken to a funeral home, three others were found dead on the second floor of the nursing home, and several others were in distress.

The victims' identities have not been released as this time.

Hollywood Fire Rescue crews responded to the nursing home for a call at about 3 a.m. Wednesday regarding a patient who was reportedly in cardiac arrest.

The Florida Health Care Association, a nursing-home industry group, said Wednesday morning that about 150 of almost 700 nursing facilities in the state do not have electricity fully restored.

Like many places in Florida, the nursing home has been without power since being whipped by tropical storm-force winds with hurricane gusts on the edge of Hurricane Irma.

The Rehabilitation Center never lost power - but a transformer that drove its air conditioning unit was knocked out, the facility's administrator said Wednesday. Her husband, Mike Eason, is a former Cumming police chief and retired agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. "We don't have a definitive on that right now", said Storey.

The incident raised concerns about the welfare of residents at other nursing centers.

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At least 35 of the evacuated nursing home patients were admitted to Memorial Healthcare System hospitals, spokeswoman Kerting Baldwin said.

City officials described the interior as "excessively hot", despite portable air coolers and fans that, according to state records, had been placed throughout the facility.

Trump, who was in and out of the state in about three hours, got an aerial view of the water-deluged homes along Florida's southwestern coast from his helicopter, then drove in his motorcade along streets lined with felled trees, darkened traffic lights and shuttered stores on his way to a mobile home community hit hard by the storm.

As Harvey bore down on Texas in late August, Trump and his aides quickly said he would visit the disaster zone within days of the storm's landfall. Many residents thanked the president and took selfies.

"I don't think it's just going to be the cost of getting prepared", Martinez says. "We're going to be with you tomorrow", Trump said. There are 683 nursing homes in Florida with more than 84,000 beds, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which licenses and regulates these facilities.

Older people can be more susceptible to heat because their bodies do not adjust to temperatures as well as younger people. The nursing home has a poor history of inspection results and is affiliated with a South Miami hospital with a troubled past of its own. "We are continuing to actively work with local, state, and federal officials -- and the appropriate utility and aid organizations -- to ensure that the needs of the residents in these facilities are met".

Hollywood Hill's proximity to Memorial Regional was one of reasons Gail Nova stayed there, her son Jeffrey said, so she could seek care as she needed it.

Carvelli found staff members proactive after they evacuated his mother.

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