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Investigators seek answers in Florida nursing home deaths

18 September 2017

The healthcare workers at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were aware on Sunday that "its air conditioning equipment had ceased to operate effectively". And we've seen the devastation.

Firefighters evacuated 158 people from the nursing home.

Investigators looking into the deaths of eight residents at a South Florida nursing home that lost its air conditioning amid ongoing power outages following Hurricane Irma said that at least one of them died Tuesday, several hours before authorities say they were alerted to a crisis at the facility early Wednesday. Another 18 patients in an adjacent behavioral health facility also were evacuated.

Knapp said the summit Friday will include discussion of a series of issues that could be involved, such as the costs of generators, the possibility that nursing facilities would need to revamp electrical wiring and whether local zoning issues could be raised. They made an initial call to Florida Power and Light to find out when the electricity would be back on but didn't heed advice to contact emergency services until after patients were already in distress. "As a precautionary measure, we've assigned police officers to go check all the other 42 assisted living facilities and nursing homes throughout the city to make sure they're in sufficient care of the elderly".

Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families also launched investigations.

Rescue teams and medical staff who helped evacuate residents from the nursing home this week said that the building was extremely hot, with staff trying to lower temperatures with portable fans.

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"The investigation into this tragedy and the circumstances that may have contributed to it continues, and it would be inappropriate to comment on details until it concludes", it added.

The nursing home has a history of safety violations and citations, including two for not following generator regulations in 2014 and 2016.

Law Newz reached out to the nursing home for comment, but they didn't respond by press time.

Federal law now requires that nursing homes be kept between 71 and 81 degrees and have a backup power source in case of emergency.

Records obtained by Stat show that the nursing home was cited twice by federal authorities for violating requirements over its backup power. Hollywood Public Affairs Director Raelin Story said there is no official cause of death yet, but a number were having respiratory issues.

"I want to thank everybody for their prayers and for giving back", said Governor Rick Scott.

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Police were checking on more than 40 other nursing facilities in Hollywood, Kate Stein of member station WLRN tells NPR's Newscast unit.

For many of Irma's victims, the days ahead are likely to be soggy, sweaty, dark and discouraging.

"We are conducting a criminal investigation [and] not ruling anything out at this time", Sanchez said.

"I don't know what happened inside".

Among the state's almost 700 nursing facilities, about 150 lacked power as of Wednesday morning, said the Florida Health Care Association, which represents most of the homes. "How am I going to last here?" she said, as a tear rolled down her cheek. "There are not as many beds and facilities available as there are people with needs".

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Investigators seek answers in Florida nursing home deaths