Judge Mary Li Creasy, a Florida administrative law judge, supported the state’s decision to revoke the license for a South Florida nursing home after 14 people died from extreme heat in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The Broward County medical examiner ruled 12 deaths as homicides.
The deaths led to stricter emergency management regulations for skilled nursing homes and Assisted Living Facilities (ALF).
A “Catastrophe” at the Nursing Home in the Three Days Following Hurricane Irma
Judge Creasy says there was “clear and convincing evidence” to support the state’s decision to revoke the license for The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. In a 94-page recommended order, Judge Creasy noted:
- Fourteen residents died from extreme heat and dehydration after Hurricane Irma knocked out power to the facility on September 10, 2017.
- The 152-bed facility did not have enough generators to restore air-conditioning.
- Recorded temperatures on the second floor were over 100 degrees.
- Paramedics evacuated the residents on September 13, 2017.
The Hollywood Hills Nursing Home Remains Closed After License Is Revoked
Immediately following the deaths, Governor Rick Scott’s administration suspended the nursing home’s license and asked that the license be revoked. The Hollywood Hills facility challenged the motion. It claimed that Florida Power & Light and state emergency management officials were also to blame. Facility representatives made several calls to Florida Power & Light, emergency management officials, and even the governor’s personal cell phone requesting that power be restored as quickly as possible.
Judge Acknowledges Unanswered Phone Calls but Reprimands Nursing Home for Failing to Protect Residents
In her ruling, Judge Creasy noted that the nursing home’s calls requesting power restoration went unanswered. However, the judge wrote the nursing home is responsible for its residents. “Hollywood Hills failed to protect and ensure appropriate health care services to the residents in its care during the loss of A/C to the facility after Hurricane Irma,” said the ruling.
Tragedy Resulted in Tighter Emergency Procedures for Nursing Homes and ALFs
Florida legislature imposed new regulations following the deaths of 14 nursing home residents. Effective July 1, 2018, all licensed Florida nursing homes and ALFs must follow these new regulations if they lose power:
- Facilities must have generators and enough fuel to run 72 hours.
- ALFs with less than 17 beds need generators and enough fuel to run 48 hours.
- Nursing homes’ interior temperatures cannot exceed 81 degrees for 96 hours after a power outage.
If you have concerns about nursing home abuse and neglect, including concerns that your loved one suffered harm because it did not adequately prepare for a hurricane, please call (800) 516-4783 for a free consultation with a nursing home abuse law firm.