A Follow-Up on the 12 Post-Irma Nursing Home Deaths

While Maryland nursing homes all have a duty to provide a safe place for residents, nursing home management routinely makes decisions that put residents at risk. Last year, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, 12 people died in a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida. According to reports at the time, the nursing home’s management had failed to secure a back-up power source in the days leading up to Hurricane Irma’s arrival. When Hurricane Irma came in as strong as expected and knocked out power in the area, the nursing home residents were left in 90-degree heat with no air conditioning.

In all, 12 nursing home residents died, most from dehydration or heat exhaustion. A subsequent investigation revealed that the temperature in the nursing home exceeded 99 degrees in some areas.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the State of Florida moved to revoke the nursing home’s license. Of course, the nursing home is contesting the revocation of its license. As a part of the process, an attorney for the nursing home recently deposed a lieutenant with the Hollywood Fire Department. According to a recent article, the lieutenant’s answers to many of the questions – including whether she saw other nursing home residents who seemed to be suffering from the heat – were “I don’t recall.”

Evidently, the nursing home lost power on a Sunday afternoon. Between the time of the outage and the order evacuating the 141 residents, there were five 911 calls made. The question asked by the nursing home’s attorney focused on why, if the heat was so bad inside the home, the fire department did not order the evacuation earlier. The lieutenant stood by her decision not to evacuate the home until 62 hours after the power outage, explaining that she made the right call “given the circumstances at that time.”

That being said, emergency responders did question nursing home employees about the heat in the nursing home. They were told that staff members were working on fixing the air conditioner units and had set up fans and coolers in the meantime. The lieutenant explained that she took the employees at their word without verifying what they claimed to have done.

The investigation is still ongoing, and the case against the nursing home will not be resolved for some time. It also remains to be seen if any of the family members of those who died in the post-Irma conditions will be filing wrongful death lawsuits against nursing home management.

Is Your Loved One at Risk?

If you have a loved one in a Maryland nursing home, and you believe that they have not been provided with adequate care, you should consult with the dedicated Maryland nursing home attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we pride ourselves on the representation we provide to our clients, always focusing on each client as an individual with unique needs. We represent nursing home residents and their families in cases of abuse and neglect in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. nursing homes. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Elder Abuse in Maryland Nursing Homes, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published December 21, 2017.

Sexual Assault Among Maryland Nursing Home Residents, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published January 5, 2018.

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