Six people are dead at a Hollywood, Florida, nursing home left without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, officials said Wednesday morning.
Three of the deaths happened at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills and three others died later at the hospital, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said at a news conference Wednesday. The victims’ identities were unknown.
Rescue crews responded to the facility at 1200 N. 35th Avenue shortly after 4 a.m. Wednesday and found patients “in varying degrees of medical distress,” with some in critical condition, Hollywood police said.
A total of 115 people were evacuated from the home and taken to area hospitals “due to conditions in the facility,” Hollywood police said. They did not elaborate on what those conditions were.
Several Deaths Reported at Florida Nursing Home
Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief says five people have died at a Hollywood nursing home that was left without power after Hurricane Irma.
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Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said investigators believe the six deaths were heat-related, and added: “The building has been sealed off and we are conducting a criminal investigation.” He did not elaborate.
Four people have died across Florida of carbon monoxide poisoning from running generators after Irma left them without power. Twelve other storm-related deaths had been reported by the Florida Division of Emergency Management as of Tuesday afternoon.
Officers are checking all of the other 42 assisted living facilities in Hollywood as a precaution, officials said.
Family members can inquire about the welfare of a loved one by calling Memorial Regional Hospital at 954-265-300 or 954-265-1074.
In 2015, Larkin Community Hospital acquired the Hollywood rehab facility and adjoining hospital, formerly known as Hollywood Pavilion Hospital, in a bankruptcy auction after its former CEO was convicted of running a Medicare fraud scheme, according to a Larkin press release announcing the purchase. Karen Kallen-Zury, Hollywood Pavilion’s majority owner, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2015 for fraudulently billing the government more than $39 million.
The 152-bed rehabilitation center was fined $5,500 on Feb. 18, 2016, according to a Medicare website. It had a two-star or below average rating.
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A 2016 inspection report dated the same day noted a series of deficiencies.
It said that the center had failed to provide daily living activities, leaving one woman in her nightgown facing a television that had not been turned on and in a room with the curtains drawn and the lights out.
Another man had long, jagged fingernails with a black substance under the nails on his right hand and a thick yellowish spongy substance under the left hand fingernails, according to the report. His skin was fragile with multiple bruises and scratches on both arms and he was unshaven.
Dentures, glasses and hearing aids were not provided to residents, the report noted.
The center also failed to provide housekeeping and maintenance needed for a sanitary building. Paint was peeling, a sink and tiles were cracked, a door was rusted, trash was overflowing, doors were dirty and a soiled wheelchair was left in a room.
Finally the center failed to provide proper wound care in a way to prevent potential contamination the report said. At one wound-care nurse was observed doing the following, according to the inspection report: “She placed the used scissors on the clean wound care supply field and without removing her gloves, washing her hands and donning new gloves, she cleansed the left heel wound with sterile normal saline and dried the area with dry gauze. In reaching for the dry gauze, the plastic bag containing Venelex wound ointment sitting on the clean field, fell on the floor. She proceeded to pick up the plastic bag off the floor and placed it back on the clean wound care supply field.”
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The director of nurses, when told of the observation, responded that she could not understand why the nurse had performed so poorly because she had watched the nurse wound care in the past with no issues, the report said.
A report in March found that one woman had had only two showers between March 10 and March 20 though she was supposed to be on a schedule of three showers a week.
In addition, two of 10 residents surveyed had not been assessed for what care they needed within the required timeframes. A coordinator acknowledged during an interview that the center was a year behind in completing the assessments for one resident.
In the kitchen, instant mashed potatoes and pureed vegetable were boiled for up to three hours, food was not being stored and served safely, according to the report. A micro-wave oven was soiled with black matter, the wall near the serving area had dust and dried food on it and small black insects were flying near a bin of uncovered fresh onions, the report said. The center failed to dispose of garbage properly.
“The entire ground area including the alley street area was strewn with trash, garbage, plastics, and used nursing/medical supplies,” the report said.
Check back with NBC 6 for updates.
RAW: Florida Nursing Home Evacuated After Irma
Helicopter video shows the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills being evacuated. At least six residents died after a power outage in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
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