Wife and husband among those who died after Florida nursing home lost A/C after Irma
The family has an ongoing lawsuit against the facility
Two more former residents of a Florida nursing home have died roughly a month after Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility’s air conditioning, the Hollywood Police Department announced Monday. The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills failed to evacuate residents from the sweltering heat in the days following the storm.
One of the newly reported deaths, 90-year-old Cecilia Franco, was the wife of another resident, Miguel Antonio Franco, who died in the week following the hurricane.
The 14th person to die was 95-year-old Francesca Andrade.
By September 13, when officials first learned that the patients were suffering in hazardous conditions, eight residents were confirmed dead, ages 71 to 99. Three more died the following week, and a 57-year-old woman died the week after.
Franco’s family is one of several that have filed lawsuits against the nursing home. In September, they alleged that the facility didn’t provide proper care to Franco, who the family said was in serious condition at the time. She died Monday morning in hospice care.
“The death of Cecilia Franco has compounded this unnecessary tragedy for her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren,” family attorneys Curtis Miner and Albert Levin said in a statement. “Her family will pursue this case until a complete explanation has been received and complete justice has been obtained.”
The exact causes of death have not been released, but a number of the 141 residents who were evacuated were treated for heat-related issues. The deaths are all being considered as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, the City of Hollywood Police Department said. State and federal agencies are also conducting administrative investigations.
Nursing home residents suffered in the heat after Hurricane Irma, which downed a tree that knocked out the transformer powering the air conditioning system. Many were moved into the hallways, next to fans and spot coolers. One video obtained by CNN shows a naked woman sitting in a hallway on what appears to be a hospital bed.
Despite multiple calls between the nursing home and state authorities, the nursing home did not report that its patients were in danger or that they needed to be evacuated, according to a report last month by Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office. The state advised managers “multiple times” to call 911 if such a situation arose – “Something they failed to do,” the 159-page report said.
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“This facility is failing to take responsibility for the fact that they delayed calling 911 and made the decision not to evacuate their patients to one of the largest hospitals in Florida, which is directly across the street,” Scott said in a statement last month.
The nursing home has expressed its sympathy for the families of the deceased and said it is “fully cooperating with all authorities and regulators to assess what went wrong.” The facility has since closed and laid off its 245 employees, according to a notice to state officials.