Published: Sun, September 17, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Probe Launched Into Nursing Home Deaths After Irma Power Outage

Probe Launched Into Nursing Home Deaths After Irma Power Outage

Criminal investigators were looking Wednesday into the deaths of eight nursing home residents in Hollywood, Florida, where oppressive heat and humidity set in after Hurricane Irma knocked out much of the power in the area.

The Hollywood Hills nursing home where six elderly people died Wednesday morning is a facility with a history of poor inspections and is owned by a South Miami hospital with an troubled past of its own.

Police in Hollywood said that rescue crews were called to the home at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, WLPG-TV reported.

Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief confirmed three people were pronounced dead at the facility.

At least 32 deaths have been reported in Florida and seven more combined in Georgia and SC.

"Facility administration has been in communication with Florida Power & Light and the Governor's office since the beginning of Hurricane Irma, and is cooperating fully with relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate and tragic outcome", Carballo wrote.

Irma killed at least 31 people in Florida, plus seven more in Georgia and SC combined, authorities said.

The storm also cut off power, water and sewage to the islands, which are home to some 70,000 people.

A woman went to check on her parents at about 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills and shot a 34-second video of a fan running in their room with a window cracked on the second floor.

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The Hollywood center where the deaths occurred had earned a "below average" mark of two out of five stars from the nursing home rating system for Medicare, the USA health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, Medicare records showed.

While the state considers nursing homes high power priority centers it remains unclear why power remained off at the center days following the storm.

The president and first lady Melania Trump - both sporting white baseball hats - were greeted on the tarmac by Vice President Mike Pence, who landed a bit before the Trumps; Florida Gov. Rick Scott and his wife; Florida Sen.

"Although the details of these reported deaths are still under investigation, this situation is unfathomable", Scott tweeted.

Kitchen worker Jean Lindor told the newspaper a generator allowed staff to cook but did not provide the facility with air conditioning. Police are going to the 42 other assisted living facilities in the area to check on those other residents. One other person died while paramedics and authorities evacuated the facility; three more people died in the hospital.

Irma hit Florida about two weeks after Hurricane Harvey plowed into Houston, killing about 60 and causing some $180 billion in damage, mostly from flooding. Broward County, where the facility is located, had said that the nursing home contacted local officials on Tuesday morning to say that they had lost power.

Duke, which serves the northern and central parts of Florida, said on its website it expects to restore service to most customers by midnight on Sunday.

"Most of the patients have been treated for respiratory distress, dehydration, & heat- related issues", doctors said during a news conference. She adds that utility providers have said they hope to have power restored for all of southeastern Florida by the weekend.

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