Five Dead at Florida Nursing Home After Irma Cut Power, Mayor Says

Five Dead at Florida Nursing Home After Irma Cut Power, Mayor Says

Emergency crews around hurricane-scarred Florida worked Thursday to make sure elderly residents were safe, after eight people died in a sweltering nursing home that lost its air conditioning in the storm and multiple other facilities were evacuated. For example, it said the facility's certified nursing assistants significantly exceeded state and national averages for the amounts of time they spent with each resident daily.

Police said Wednesday morning that this may be related to the loss of power during the storm.

The California Department of Public Health, which regulates all long term care facilities, requires nursing homes have an alternate source of power for their medical equipment and oxygen supply. Patients were treated for dehydration, breathing difficulties and other heat-related ills, authorities said. Prosecutors say that after he bought the hospital in 1998, Michel and others fraudulently increased the number of patients at the facility, along with their Medicare and Medicaid revenues, by bringing in patients from nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Hollywood Fire Rescue evacuated residents from The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, 1200 N 35th Ave., after some residents awoke sick. Hollywood police chief Tomas Sanchez said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that officers found "extremely hot" temperatures on the second floor. The Associated Press reported that before the deaths at the Hollywood nursing home, Irma was blamed for a combined 19 fatalities in Florida, Georgia and SC.

Governor Rick Scott called the tragedy "unfathomable", and police said they had opened a criminal investigation, sealing off the building after the remaining patients were transferred to hospitals.

At least 25 people died when Irma pounded the Southeast earlier this week, including 13 people in Florida. The chief said authorities have not ruled anything out in the deaths, including carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.

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Keefe said about one-third of Broward County was still without power.

Some 4.3 million homes and businesses were still without power on Wednesday in Florida and neighboring states. More than half the community of 15,000 residents lacked power. "I would be remiss if i didn't say our deepest sympathies goes out to the families of those (who) lost their lives", Gould said.

Stepped-up safety checks came after the deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which shocked Florida's top leaders even as they surveyed destruction from a storm that spread its punishing effects across the entire state. The nursing home now has 152 beds for its residents. But she said when factors are constantly changing, it's impossible to have a plan that addresses every variable.

The Keys felt Irma's full fury when the hurricane roared in on Sunday with 130 miles per hour (209 kph) winds.

The newspaper, citing the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office, said the eight residents of the retirement home who died were between the ages of 71 years old and 99 years old. Elsewhere, facilities lacking electricity statewide tried to keep residents cool with dampened cloths and urged utilities to work quickly.

A kitchen worker at the center told the Miami Herald that the facility "had power from a generator to cook meals, but no air conditioning". The association is working with the state to identify homes without power in greatest need so utility companies could prioritize them.

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