Incriminating Evidence Emerges In Deadly Florida Nursing Home Catastrophe
In September, we reported on the Hollywood Hills nursing home facility, where several residents were found dead after Florida’s massive hurricane disaster. That catastrophe left many concerned about negligence, where questions remained concerning why the air conditioning was not maintained at the facility, as well as why the residents were not moved to the hospital across the street when it was clear that they were in trouble.
Now, new evidence has emerged indicating that, in 2015, the facility was on notice that an air conditioning failure would wreak catastrophe, whereby the facility would have to be shut down and patients evacuated. This could affect any personal injury and wrongful death claims against the facility.
2015 Filing Suggested Evacuating Residents
The evidence came from a 2015 foreclosure case, which involved the South Miami Larkin hospital attempting to take over the nursing home from the current owners, who were facing Medicare fraud charges. Unfortunately, the hospital owners needed judicial approval on the foreclosure sale in order to secure the funds to do upgrades, including replacing the deteriorating air conditioners.
Even though some of those upgrades were eventually made, when tragedy struck this last September, Hurricane Irma knocked out a transformer, which supplied power to the system. The 2015 court filing indicated that nursing home staff should evacuate the 141 residents if something like this should happen; however, staffers at the facility instead chose to manage the situation for three days with nothing but fans, keeping the residents there. By the time electrical power was restored, it was too late for the residents who suffered, and who, in 12 cases, died.
The state has since revoked the operating license for the Hollywood Hills facility, which is now challenging that revocation, claiming that the facility was assured that the electrical power would be restored sooner and help was on the way, even though it never arrived. Hearings on the claims are scheduled to be held in January 2018.
Many strongly believe that court records from 2015 indicating that the nursing home’s management was aware that a prolonged power outage could occur will be damning against the facility. In addition, in that same case, the facility owners were specifically warned that Florida Power & Light would likely not be able to restore electrical service for several days if catastrophe struck, and air conditioning would likely be unavailable to the residents, which could cause them “to be relocated.” In fact, the nursing home itself wrote that modern healthcare facilities should be self-sufficient if and when disaster strikes, and be able to function until power could be restored and help could arrive. In addition, the facility was previously cited in 2014 for having a poorly-installed temporary generator, which was still in place—without the proper permits—when the hurricane hit this year in September.
Holding Florida Facilities Accountable
If you or a loved one has suffered because of the negligence committed by a nursing home or similar facility, contact one of the Boca Raton attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan today to discuss your options in a free consultation. We are here to help.