Paramedic testifies about finding patients dead inside Hollywood nursing home

Surveillance video shows sweltering conditions inside nursing home

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – We are now seeing surveillance video inside the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills that shows paramedics responding to treat patients in the facility after power went out following Hurricane Irma in 2017.

State prosecutors say the facility’s administrator, Jorge Carballo, should have done more to help them.

He is now charged with nine counts of aggravated manslaughter after numerous patients died.

The defense argues this was the fault of Florida, Power and Light, and not their client.

Carballo’s trial started Monday, and testimony continued Tuesday with a look inside the sweltering nursing home in Hollywood where 12 residents died of excessive heat.

“The conditions inside the building at that time -- you can’t testify that they were the same because they were before the evacuation, can you?” a defense attorney asked a crime scene technician Tuesday.

“Correct,” the technician responded.

The crime scene technician documented body temperatures above 104 degrees among the deceased on that September day in 2017.

Evidence shows windows were sealed shut, fans were set up in rooms and cooling stations were rigged in hallways after power had gone out to the building’s chiller, disabling the air conditioning system in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

“We noticed a trend of a lot of very sick patients, and the facility was hot and the staff told us they were working on air conditioning, but we didn’t see any improvement,” Hollywood Fire Rescue Capt. Amy Christine Parrinello said.

Parrienello said she responded multiple times to the facility in a single day, treating patients who were having difficulty breathing and some who appeared to be pale. She also said she found others deceased.

Ultimately, Perrienello would notify the Florida Department of Children and Families due to the hot conditions and consistency of patients dying, becoming severely ill and in some cases, like Betty Hibbard -- seen in video shown to jurors -- going into cardiac arrest.

“She had a fast heart rate. She had pale and hot skin with a temperature listed as 107.5 degrees Fahrenheit,” Parrinello said.

City of Hollywood Fire Rescue Lt. Sidney Doret described the sweltering heat as he arrived to treat Estella Hendricks, a critical patient he rushed to Memorial Regional Hospital.

“Immediately we were hit with a thick cloud of heat. Almost like a sauna,” he said. “Her respiratory rate, her heart rate, her temperature, all those things made her critical.”

Sadly she would lose her life, but the defense argued moving her and more than a hundred other patients may have not been the right decision

Prosecutors blame Carballo for failing to do more and to get the mostly elderly residents the help they needed in time.

About the Author:

Roy Ramos joined the Local 10 News team in 2018. Roy is a South Florida native who grew up in Florida City. He attended Christopher Columbus High School, Homestead Senior High School and graduated from St. Thomas University.