Louisiana’s health department on Tuesday revoked the licenses of seven nursing homes that sent residents to a warehouse to shelter during Hurricane Ida – a situation that the department said involved unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
Seven of the residents who sheltered at the warehouse died, according to state health officials.
More than 800 residents of seven southeastern Louisiana nursing homes had been brought to the warehouse in the town of Independence – roughly a 55-mile drive east of Baton Rouge – ahead of the storm.
Several family members representing nursing home residents who were sent to the warehouse filed a class-action lawsuit against the seven nursing facilities from which residents were moved, as well as their executive. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and damages on behalf of the residents, claiming they “endured horrific and inhumane conditions.”
The state health department said it started to hear about deteriorating conditions at the warehouse after Ida’s August 29 landfall.
CNN obtained the logs of 61 calls from the warehouse to 911 operators. At least 30 of the calls asked for assistance with medical episodes before and after landfall, including calls for seizures, stopped breathing, and one instance in which a caller says a diabetic patient needed transport because they had “not eaten due to them having no more supplies.”
“Let’s be clear; there is no emergency-preparedness plan that allows for residents to be kept in such an unsafe, unsanitary, and unhealthy condition,” Stephen Russo, director of legal, audit and regulatory affairs for the health department, said Tuesday. “The lack of adequate care for these residents is inhumane, and goes against the rules, regulations, and applicable statutes.”
Inspectors were sent to the warehouse August 31 but were expelled and kept from doing a full assessment, the health department said.
By September 2, all residents were removed over concerns about conditions and were sent elsewhere, including to medical special needs shelters, officials said.
The seven facilities that had their licenses revoked cannot repatriate or admit residents, officials said. The homes also had their Medicaid provider agreements terminated, the health department said.
The state attorney general last week announced an investigation into how residents ended up at the warehouse.
Nursing homes are in four parishes in SE Louisiana
The nursing homes whose licenses were revoked are, according to the health department:
• River Palms Nursing and Rehab, Orleans Parish
• Maison Orleans Healthcare Center, Orleans Parish
• Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home, Jefferson Parish
• West Jefferson Health Care Center, Jefferson Parish
• Maison Deville Nursing Home of Harvey, Jefferson Parish
• South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab, Lafourche Parish
• Maison De Ville Nursing Home, Terrebonne Parish
CNN has sought comment from the seven facilities but did not immediately receive a response.
A review of business licenses by CNN has found that Bob Dean Jr. of Baton Rouge is listed as an executive with all seven nursing facilities, in addition to the warehouse.
When questioned about the warehouse by CNN affiliate WVUE, Dean said that, “we only had five deaths within the six days and normally with 850 people, you’ll have a couple a day, so we did really good with taking care of people.”
In the class-action lawsuit against the nursing facilities and Dean, family members of residents claim that the defendants “intentionally misrepresented the actual evacuation plan, choosing not to inform family members of the planned evacuation or tell them where the residents were being taken.” The plaintiffs are demanding a trial by jury in the case.
CNN has attempted to reach Dean and Bob Dean Enterprises Inc. for comment.
Meanwhile, the town’s police chief has said it appeared the operators were struggling to meet patient needs and the facility struggled to maintain power, and the attorney general has said his office’s investigation will focus on who sent patients to the “apparently unsafe and potentially inappropriate facility.”
Five of the seven deaths have been classified as storm-related, the state’s health department said in a recent news release.
CNN’s Paul P. Murphy, Nicole Williams and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.