Science

Eight dead after Irma-induced power failure at south Florida nursing home

Eight dead after Irma-induced power failure at south Florida nursing home

Eight Hollywood nursing home residents died Wednesday morning in a building left without air conditioning after Irma roared through South Florida, according to Hollywood police and the city.

Authorities are now questioning how the conditions at the nursing home lasted for so long.

"I think all nursing homes should be expecting that their next surveys are going to be focusing on their emergency preparedness", says Lourdes Martinez, a partner and director at Garfunkel Wild, P.C., in Great Neck, N.Y.

"If you go back into the 1930s and the 1940s, and you take a look, we've had storms over the years that have been bigger than this", Trump said.

He said he learned of his mother's death not from the facility, but from a reporter who got his name and contact info from a nursing home employee.

This storm grew so immensely powerful over warmer-than-normal Atlantic water that it devastated the first islands in its path.

Not counting the nursing home deaths, at least 13 people in Florida have died under in Irma-related circumstances, many of them well after the storm had passed.

A state inspection report in February 2016 cited the facility for failing to comply with regulations for emergency generators.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday night that he directed the Agency for Health Care Administration to terminate the center as a provider for Medicaid, which provides health care for low-income individuals and families. Statewide, 64 nursing homes were still waiting for full power Thursday, a number that had dropped almost 20 from the previous day, according to the Florida Health Care Association.

Hollywood police did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE. The state lists Dr. Jack Michel, of South Miami, as the company's manager.

President Donald Trump doled out hoagies and handshakes in the sweltering Florida heat on Thursday as he took a firsthand tour of Irma's devastation and liberally dispensed congratulatory words about the federal and state recovery effort.

Hollywood officials said eight people aged 71 to 99 died at the for-profit Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, but the causes were not yet determined. One of them was later evacuated because of the heat. "I'm saving my money up and moving out of here", she said. She said her 58-year-old sister, who can't talk or walk, has been there 10 years.

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"The staff has never been in any way disrespectful to me or my mom", he told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "Nobody's telling us nothing".

Police were helping to evacuate about 80 residents from the the Krystal Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in North Miami Beach on Wednesday afternoon.

A third call later came in as well, police said.

"A day you can survive, two days ok", said Dan Nelson, chief operating officer for Cape Coral Shores assisted living, adding that after that "things like what happened over in Hollywood unfortunately could happen somewhere else".

Unfortunate. Yeah, dude. Some might even say fucking tragic.

Nursing home administrator Jorge Carballo said in a statement that the facility was evacuated Wednesday "due to a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility's air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane".

In a press conference Thursday, Memorial Regional staff members said that when they arrived at the center, they saw patients in distress and in bad shape.

The Florida Health Care Association, a long-term care industry group, released a statement Wednesday morning framing the deaths within the context of Irma's brutal blow to the state.

Still, the dangers lingered, mostly in the form of noxious gas from generators serving those who still don't have power.

"The facility had some power. We don't have a definitive on that right now", said Storey.

A woman went to check on her parents about 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills and shot a 34-second video of a fan running in their room with a window cracked on the second floor - the hottest level of the facility.