Update: According to police, the death toll from the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has now risen to 11.
94-year-old Alice Thomas passed away eight days after the nursing home’s residents were removed from its overheated buildings. It is believed that Thomas and the other 10 residents died as a result of the severe heat from air-conditioning failure.
The nursing home, which is within yards of Memorial Regional Hospital, was evacuated after authorities discovered multiple fatalities along with residents in varying stages of decline in the overheated rooms and hallways.
The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills is no longer operating and the deaths are under criminal investigation. The Hollywood Police Department is asking anyone with family/loved ones involved to contact investigators at 954-967-4411.
Here is our previous story from Sept. 14, 2017:
Hollywood, FL: The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, near Ft. Lauderdale, had more than 150 of its residents transported to hospitals yesterday. Officials say that no fewer than 8 individuals have died, possibly as a result of the overwhelmingly warm temperatures inside the nursing home.
Family members of the deceased, who ranged in age from 71-99, have been notified as an investigation is underway to learn just how a nursing home filled with susceptible elders was left in such a dangerous condition.
Early Wednesday morning, authorities were called to the facility. When they arrived, they discovered that 3 residents were deceased, and dozens – over 100 residents – were in varying stages of decline.
By late afternoon, no fewer than 8 were pronounced dead, and 150 nursing home residents were receiving medical care in hospitals.
Rescue teams worked tirelessly to remove those needing care, while area medical centers joined to find and secure enough beds for the ailing elderly individuals.
Tomas Sanchez, the Hollywood police chief, held a press conference to comment on the sad event, stating that the initial investigation led investigators to believe the loss of air-conditioning was at the cause of the catastrophe. The building, especially on the second floor was “extremely hot”, he commented.
Although no known charges have been filed, a full investigation of the nursing home and the tragic event is underway.
At approximately 3 a.m. on Wednesday, the Hollywood Fire Dept. received a call from the facility, noting a patient was possibly in cardiac arrest. The facility would go on to make no fewer than 3 calls for patients in distress within a very short time. This caused both Fire rescue crews and teams from Memorial Regional Hospital staff to be deployed to The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.
Reports indicate that the center had been running on generators since sometime on Sunday, when Hurricane Irma knocked out power from the building. According to recounts from those associated with the facility, it brought in portable A/C units and moved sparsely-dressed residents to hallways to remain as cool as possible.
The recounts state that repeated calls from those connected to residents of the nursing home were made to Florida Power & Light. On Tuesday, the county says, they were informed of the nursing home’s need for power. The county, however; did not list the nursing home on FP&L’s critical need list, they say, due to the power company’s guidelines.
Later on Tuesday, the facility reported a tree was on the transformer, a message Broward County reports it passed along to FP&L.
According to a claim by the daughter of a resident, she visited the nursing home both Monday and Tuesday and was overwhelmed by the stifling heat. She says the staff was trying to help the residents and that she and others called 911, but received no attention. When the daughter returned on Wednesday, she says she was told the generators “gave up.”
Kristen Knapp, spokeswoman for the Florida Health Care Association, confirmed that Federal requirements state that nursing homes must have written, detailed plans and procedures for emergencies and disasters such as severe weather. She noted that hundreds of facilities for the elderly have leaned upon backup systems since Irma struck the state on Sunday. She further stated that she knows of no other nursing home operating without a generator.
FP&L said that they were limited on their ability to comment, due to the investigation. As of this time, there has been no official word from the nursing home.