Ninth patient of Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills dies

93-year-old man latest victim after facility's AC failed

By Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - After Hurricane Irma, there were 145 people at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. Albertina Vega, who suffered from dementia, was the first to die after the storm. She would have celebrated her 100th birthday Oct. 10. 

Carlos Canal, 93, was the ninth to die Tuesday night, according to a statement from the Hollywood Police Department. Detectives were still investigating what caused the deaths at the nursing home. 

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. 

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