State suspends license of Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills

AHCA: Residents at nursing home had body temperatures of more than 100 degrees

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor
Headline Goes Here

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - A Hollywood nursing home in the midst of a criminal investigation into the deaths of nine residents after Hurricane Irma had its license suspended Wednesday.

The Agency for Health Care Administration announced Wednesday that it issued an emergency suspension order on the license of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

According to the order, residents at the facility had body temperatures of more than 100 degrees when they arrived at Memorial Regional Hospital, across the street from the nursing home.

Justin Senior, secretary for the state agency, wrote in the order that the facility also made many "late entries" into patients' medical records, claiming that the entries were made "under dubious circumstances" hours after a nurse visited the patients.

One of the people who died last week had a body temperature of 109.9 degrees Fahrenheit, while others had body temperatures of 108.5, 108.3 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit, the order claims.

Hollywood police said Tuesday that a ninth person died after an air conditioning issue that nursing home administrator Jorge Carballo blamed on "a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility's air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane."

The AHCA previously banned the facility from admitting new patients and from receiving Medicaid. The nursing home has filed a lawsuit trying to block those orders.

"As more information has come to light on this egregious situation, this facility absolutely cannot continue to have access to patients," Senior said in a statement. "This facility failed its residents multiple times throughout this horrifying ordeal. It is unfathomable that a medical professional would not know to call 911 immediately in an emergency situation. The facility also entered late entries into medical records claiming safe temperatures for patients while those same patients were across the street dying in the emergency room with temperatures of over 108 degrees Fahrenheit."

According to the order, several residents suffered respiratory or cardiac distress between 1:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. Sept. 13 at the nursing home, which was using eight portable coolers and fans in the halls while it was without air conditioning.

"The action AHCA took today to close the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center sends a clear message -- if you do not protect the patients that are entrusted in your care, you will be held accountable," Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. "The more we learn about this facility's reckless behavior, the more concerning it becomes that the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center made the decision not to immediately call 911 or evacuate to one of the state's largest hospitals located across the street -- which never lost power. We will not stop demanding answers to these questions on behalf of every family who lost a loved one."

Copyright 2017 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.