Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) issued a statement on Thursday slamming the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, where eight elderly residents died after the facility lost power due to Hurricane Irma, calling it an “abomination.”
“While any loss of life is sorrowful, these deaths may have been preventable. It is an abomination that the patients were not moved mere yards away to Memorial Regional Hospital immediately after the air conditioning stopped working,” Wilson said in a statement on Thursday.
“Based on news reports, the nursing home has been cited repeatedly for safety and other violations. I believe that it and any other facility that has previously put patients at risk should have been on a list of sites to watch to ensure that patients are receiving the care they need. Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez plans to conduct a criminal investigation of this tragedy and my office also will be seeking details about what happened,” she continued.
Six of the eight deaths were caused by heat related issues. The causes of the other two deaths are currently unknown and being investigated by authorities.
Gov. Rick Scott (R) called the situations “unfathomable.”
“Although the details of these reported deaths are still under investigation, this situation is unfathomable,” he said in a statement.
“Every facility that is charged with caring for patients must take every action and precaution to keep their patients safe — especially patients that are in poor health,” he continued.
The Hill added:
More than 100 people were evacuated from the nursing home, and state authorities have temporarily closed the facility, according to CBS12.
However, the nursing home’s administration is maintaining that they were prepared for the storm, which made landfall in South Florida early on Sunday.
Jorge Carballo said his staff was prepared with seven days’ worth of food and were using a power generator.
“We are devastated by these losses,” Carballo said in a statement.
“We are fully cooperating with all authorities and regulators to assess what went wrong and to ensure our other residents are cared for,” he said.
The Broward County Medical Examiner identified the victims as Bobby Owens, 84; Manuel Mario Medieta, 96; Miguel Antonio Franco, 92; Estella Hendricks, 71; Gail Nova, 71; Carolyn Eatherly, 78; Betty Hibbard, 84; and Albertina Vega, 99.