Several Florida Nursing Home Residents Dead after Storm Has Families Wondering About Negligence
On September 13th, eight nursing home residents were found dead in the wake of Florida’s post-hurricane heat. When police entered the home after the storm, they found a foot of standing water filled with feces and urine.
Many are now wondering why some facilities in the state were able to take care of residents during and after the storm, while others (like this facility, the Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood Hills) were not, and suspect that there may have been negligence involved. Many are also calling on the federal government to institute stronger rules regarding power supplies and temperature control to avoid tragedies like these.
What Happened At the Florida Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood Hills?
Questions remain regarding who set the priorities for power restoration in the state, and how; as Florida Power & Light was asked to restore electricity, but nursing homes were not considered to be a high priority compared to hospitals, for example. The facility where the residents died was “obligated to keep the temperature safe,” which it arguably did not, leading to these injuries, deaths, and loss for these families. As a result of what happened, Governor Rick Scott kicked that particular nursing home out of the Medicaid program, which could result in the facility closing down.
While some facilities are claiming that these types of generators are cost prohibitive to purchase, others, such as the Florida Board of Nursing Home Administrators, have remarked that they were able to purchase the proper generators years ago and it was partially covered by an adjustment in Medicaid’s reimbursement rates. In fact, almost all of the state’s hospitals had power restored or were running on generators.
Will The November Rule Fix This?
The rule that was put in place after Hurricane Katrina, when an estimated 215 people died in nursing homes and hospitals, and mandates that facilities have certain power supplies and temperature control on hand; specifically, it requires that nursing homes keep alternate sources of energy on hand in order to maintain temperatures necessary to protect residents’ health and safety. However, it does not mandate that facilities have backup generators with enough power for air-conditioner systems, which are arguably necessary to ensure that residents are protected during natural disasters. It also won’t be enforced until November.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid admonish that many have requested clarification when it comes to emergency preparedness requirements for health care providers; however, the agency also remarked that minimum requirements with regard to these types of provisions have not been required because “they would vary greatly between facilities.”
Holding Florida Facilities Accountable
If you or a loved one has suffered because of someone else’s negligence, contact one of our Boca Raton attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan to discuss your options in a free consultation. Those who are in charge of taking care of our loved ones at these facilities need to abide by certain rules. Contact us today; we are here to help.