Florida nursing home where six deaths occurred had repeat safety violations

Florida Firefighters Evacuate 122 Residents from Nursing Homes

Police opened a criminal investigation Wednesday (US time) into the deaths of at least six people at a South Florida nursing home that apparently was without air conditioning amid ongoing power outages from Hurricane Irma, according to local officials.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has evacuated this morning due to a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility's air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane. Any plan submitted by the Hollywood center was not immediately available.

It wasn't immediately known whether the resident's death was heat related or due to natural causes.

Broward County officials said three died at the property on 1200 N. 35th Ave., which includes the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills and the Larkin Community Hospital.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he was "heartbroken" to learn of the deaths at the nursing home.

Officials said responders "found several patients in varying degrees of medical distress".

The centre had been without air conditioning, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief told reporters on Wednesday.

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Even though threats can be grave to seniors staying in facilities in the path of a storm, evacuations also can be deadly.

Police in Hollywood said that rescue crews were called to the home at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, WLPG-TV reported.

The Florida Health Care Association represents 81 percent of the state's nursing homes.

Over 100 people at the nursing home had to be evacuated.

It said that the center had failed to provide daily living activities, leaving one woman in her nightgown facing a television that had not been turned on and in a room with the curtains drawn and the lights out. About 110,000 people remained in shelters across the state. Hollywood Public Affairs Director Raelin Story said there is no official cause of death yet, but a number were having respitory issues.

Officers are checking all of the other 42 assisted living facilities in Hollywood as a precaution, officials said.

Initially, Hollywood Police Spokeswoman Miranda Grossman told Local10 that one person died.

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According to Scott, the nursing home had reported it had power and access to fans and spot coolers provided by Memorial Healthcare.

"We need to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep our seniors safe during this hard time", he said. "As with millions of other Floridians, our centers are coping with the loss of power and infrastructure in the communities that were most affected by the devastation", the statement reads.

"We work with them to understand what those facilities are, and then we address those facilities initially", Mr. Gould said, regarding meetings with counties.

Paulburn Bogle, a member of the housekeeping staff, said the place had been hot but manageable the past few days.

"They were sick already".

Flora Mitchell, a 61-year-old Hollywood resident, came down to the center to find her sister around noon Wednesday.

"We need to know what happened to her", she said.

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