Eight Elderly Residents Die in Broward County Nursing Home that Lost Power During Hurricane Irma

Floridians are still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. Irma came ashore in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm before then making landfall on Florida’s West Coast as a Category 3. Millions are still without power across the entire Sunshine State a week after Irma hit, with residents on the state’s west coast and those in the Florida Keys particularly affected. According to the latest reports, the storm killed 26 people across the state and caused untold billions of dollars in damage in the form of downed trees, flooding and the widespread power outages across the whole state.

One of the most tragic stories to emerge from Hurricane Irma was the death of eight residents of a Broward County nursing home owned and operated by South Miami-based Larkin Community Hospital. According to an Associated Press news report in the New York Times, the nursing home, Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center, first lost power on Sunday afternoon, September 10th, as Irma began to pound Southeast Florida. Nursing home residents were then subjected to temperatures in excess of 100 degrees inside the facility. The nursing home reportedly had a backup generator, but this generator did not connect to the facility’s air conditioning system, leaving staff and patients without any air conditioning.

After responding to three early morning calls on Wednesday, September 13th about patients in distress at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, firefighters went throughout the entire nursing home facility and found three people dead. Emergency responders then evacuated more than 150 patients to hospitals, many on stretchers or in wheelchairs. By Wednesday afternoon, five more residents had died. What makes this situation even more tragic is that the nursing home sits across the street from Memorial Regional Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Florida, which did not lose power during the entire storm. Nevertheless, other than a couple residents, the facility did not evacuate any residents until residents began to perish starting early in the morning of September 13th. In all, eight residents of the nursing home died as a result of the power outage and the nursing home’s failure to evacuate its residents. The victims, five women and three men, ranged in age from 70 to 99.

The Hollywood Police Department recently announced the commencement of a criminal homicide investigation into the nursing home residents’ deaths. Meanwhile, several state and federal agencies have launched administrative probes into the nursing home residents’ deaths.

The Nursing Home’s Response

According to another report from the New York Times, representatives of the nursing home had spoken repeatedly with officials from both utility provider Florida Power & Light as well as state government agencies, including the Florida Department of Emergency Management, the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health in the days leading up the residents’ deaths and the evacuation of the nursing home. Larkin executives even reportedly called Florida Governor Rick Scott’s cell phone at least three times without any success. Nevertheless, according to the governor’s office, the nursing home had reported as late as Tuesday evening to the Florida state nursing home monitoring database that both its heating and cooling systems were operational. The facility did not report to state officials that its heating and cooling systems were not operational until Wednesday morning. Nursing home staff claimed to have set up fans as well as 10 spot coolers on the nursing home’s first and second floor. Nevertheless, 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. Wednesday. However, by then it was too late. Five patients suffered cardiac arrest or respiratory distress by 4:45 a.m. The entire facility was evacuated by fire rescue at 6:30 a.m. on the 13th.

Contact Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley if Your Loved Ones Were Harmed by Negligent Nursing Home Administrators or Employees During Hurricane Irma

At Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley, our attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal experience. We regularly represent victims of nursing home negligence or abuse and their families, much like those affected by the tragedy at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. If a loved one or family member has suffered an injury due to the negligence of the staff of a nursing home or other healthcare facility, you should contact the experienced personal injury attorneys of Schwed, Adams, Sobel & McGinley today at contact@schwedlawfirm.com or (877) 694-6079.

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