Death toll rises to 8 at Florida nursing home

Hollywood, Florida (CBS, Sept 13,2017): Eight patients at a Florida nursing home who spent days in sweltering heat died after Hurricane Irma knocked out their air conditioning.

Fire rescue crews and police responded to the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Hollywood, Florida, early Wednesday morning after receiving calls of patients in distress. Hollywood police chief Tomas Sanchez said at a press conference that officers found “extremely hot” temperatures on the second floor. First responders ordered the nursing home evacuated.

The nursing home had been without air conditioning since Irma knocked out electricity to the area.

Three patients died at the nursing home, and three others died Wednesday morning shortly after being transported to local hospitals. The Broward County Medical Examiner announced the deaths of two more patients Wednesday afternoon.

The eight victims ranged in age from 71 to 99.

The evacuation included 115 patients from the nursing home and 18 from a nearby behavioral facility. The patients were transported to area hospitals, including Memorial Regional Hospital across the street.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he was “absolutely heartbroken” over the deaths, calling the situation “unfathomable.” Scott said he was directing state agencies to worth with local law enforcement to investigate the incident.

“If they find that anyone wasn’t acting in the best interests of the patients, we will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Scott said in a statement.

The manager of the nursing home has a history of health-care fraud accusations. Federal court records show the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami filed civil charges in 2004 against Dr. Jack Michel, several other individuals, and several businesses, including Larkin Health Systems. Larkin Health Systems owns The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

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