Death Toll Rises to 14 After Power Loss at Florida Nursing Home

It was confirmed on October 9th that a 14th victim, 95 year old Francesca Andrade, has died after spending days without air conditioning at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. During Hurricane Irma, the facility blew a transformer that powered their air conditioning. Three days went by before authorities were finally alerted that many residents were in respiratory distress, a side effect of elevated body temperatures. The 13th victim was the wife of a man who was also a resident of the facility and lost his life immediately following the evacuation. The victims, Cecilia and Miguel Antonio Franco, were parents and grandparents and had been married for 62 years.

The nursing home is currently under criminal investigation for failing to transfer patients after losing power and has been shut down by the state of Florida. The media immediately noted that an unaffiliated hospital was located directly across the street from the nursing home and until the first patients began being transferred in the early hours of September 13th, the hospital was unaware of the tragedy occurring only a stone’s throw away.

Unbelievably, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills is fighting back against the closure, citing their multiple calls to state officials to intervene to have their power restored. Governor Rick Scott has fired back saying that a voicemail on an elected official’s phone is no excuse for not taking action to move patients from unbearable conditions to a safe location. The nursing home has also claimed they had firm safety plans in place for Hurricane Irma, although it remains unclear what the plan was for dealing with extreme heat and no power. The facility used several portable air conditioners and fans, but news reports revealed that many patients, especially those on the second floor, had temperatures as high as 109 degrees.

As news broke of the tragedy at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, Levin & Perconti founding partner and one of the first attorneys to take on nursing home abuse and neglect cases in the country, Steven Levin, was interviewed on HLN’s Across America with Carol Costello. To watch his interview, please click here.

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