Florida suspends license of nursing home with deaths after Hurricane Irma

Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills not allowed to operate


HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – While a Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills resident was at Memorial Regional Hospital with a recorded temperature of 108.3, authorities say a nurse at the center recorded the patient's temperature at 101.6 degrees. 

Authorities also said that after a resident died, a nurse at the facility reported the resident was "resting in bed with respiration even and unlabored."

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's initial investigation also determined trained medical professionals at the facility "overwhelmingly" delayed calling 911.

"No amount of emergency preparedness could have prevented the gross medical and criminal recklessness that occurred at this facility," Agency Secretary Justin Senior said in a statement. 

About a day after the ninth resident who had been hospitalized died, AHCA suspended the license of the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills

The Hollywood Police Department Detectives were still investigating what caused the nine deaths at the facility housing 145 people. 

Carlos Canal, 93, was the ninth resident to die Tuesday. Albertina Vega, who suffered from dementia, was the first to die after the storm Sept. 10. She would have celebrated her 100th birthday Oct. 10. 

Facility employees told police officers the storm knocked down a tree that took out the transformer, which was meant to help power the air-conditioning system. They contacted Florida Power & Light, which had not restored power to the area after the storm, Sept. 10.

Natasha Anderson, the chief executive of Larkin Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services, which shares a building with the nursing home, said she called the Florida Department of Health to report the issue Sept 11 and Sept. 12.

The facility's administrators decided not to evacuate the building despite the risk of heat-related health issues. One patient had tachycardia at 1:30 a.m. Sept. 13. An hour later, another suffered respiratory distress. Three suffered cardiac arrest.  

When the heat-related symptoms at the nursing home became obvious at Memorial Regional Hospital, which is across the street from the nursing home, hospital nurses took initiative and got the other patients out.

Hollywood police later identified the other victims as Carolyn Eatherly, 78, Gail Nova, 71, Estella Hendricks, 71, Bobby Owens, 84, Miguel Franco, 92, Betty Hibbard, 84, and Manuel Mario Mendieta, 96. 

Gov. Rick Scott ordered the termination of the facility from the Medicaid program. 

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