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6 dead at nursing home after Irma knocks out air conditioning

6 dead at nursing home after Irma knocks out air conditioning

Eight patients at a sweltering Hollywood nursing home died in Hurricane Irma's aftermath, authorities said yesterday, as people confronted a multitude of new hazards in the storm's wake, including tree-clearing accidents and lethal fumes from generators.

Two elderly residents were found dead at the nursing home, and three later died at a hospital.

Sanchez said the air conditioning at the facility was out, but it remained under investigation whether power was entirely cut.

Some already had evacuated, she said, in some cases going to neighboring states that hadn't suffered Irma's widespread heavy winds.

The Hollywood center where the deaths occurred had earned a "below average" mark of two out of five stars from the nursing home rating system for Medicare, the USA health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, Medicare records showed.

"We often see that injuries and deaths after disaster in the United States are more common than those actually caused by the disaster itself", Kirsch said.

An individual handling air conditioning for the facility told WPLG that a fuse was damaged during Hurricane Irma, resulting in cooling issues for the past few days.

Efforts to prevent such disasters in nursing facilities have improved in recent years, public health experts said, and that new federal regulations require facilities to have sufficient backup power to maintain reasonable temperatures.

~150 of Florida's almost 700 nursing facilities do not have power restored, according to the Florida Health Care Association advocacy group.

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At least 25 people died when Irma pounded the Southeast earlier this week, including 12 people in Florida.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he was "absolutely heartbroken" over the deaths, calling the situation "unfathomable".

According to Hollywood Fire Rescue and Police, 115 people were evacuated Wednesday morning at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, located at 1200 N 35 Ave., due to intense heat and no power. Some were in critical condition and taken to area hospitals.

The Broward Medical Examiner's Office confirmed Wednesday that Bobby Owens, 84; Manuel Mario Medieta, 96; Miguel Antonio Franco, 92; Estella Hendricks, 71; Gail Nova, 71; Carolyn Eatherly, 78; Betty Hibbard, 84; and Albertina Vega, 99, had died, the Sun Sentinel reported.

"I'm very concerned. I'm like a family member to her", he said. Three more residents were found dead on the second floor of the facility, and another was already with the coroner.

7SkyForce HD was over the scene where officials were continuing to evacuate those in the nursing home.

More than 90 special needs shelters were opened to help patients in need.

Carbon monoxide from a generator is also suspected in the death of a man in Miami, while authorities say another dozen people were treated for carbon monoxide-related illnesses on Tuesday in Polk and Brevard counties.