Four employees at a Florida nursing home where more than a dozen residents died following Hurricane Irma in September 2017, which wiped out air conditioning at the facility for days, have been charged with manslaughter, Hollywood Police Chief Chris O’Brien said.
Three nurses and an administrator at the now-shuttered Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were charged, and other arrests are expected.
“I’m glad these individuals are being held accountable after their inexplicable failure to call 911 when people were in need,” said Sen. Rick Scott, who was governor of Florida when Hurricane Irma struck. “The individuals responsible for these senseless deaths must be brought to justice.
The storm rolled into Florida as a Category 4 hurricane with 130-mph winds and heavy rains, knocking out power in several areas of the state for days. The storm shut down the air conditioning at Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, leaving patients languishing in sweltering hot temperatures. It was days before patients were transferred out of the facility and to the hospital where they were treated for heat-related injuries including dehydration, breathing difficulties, and fever.
Fourteen residents died, 12 of which were ruled homicides. Federal, state and local authorities launched investigations, and family members of the deceased filed lawsuits. No charges had been filed until this week.
Attorneys for nursing home employees who were arrested said the workers did all they could to protect the residents, using portable air conditioners and industrial fans to keep patients from overheating.
Florida lawmakers have since passed a bill requiring long-term care facilities in the state to have backup power sources capable of keeping nursing homes and assisted living facilities at 81 degrees or lower for at least four days.
Alyssa Baskam, who works in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office, represents individuals who have been injured or the families of those who have died as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, or other inpatient facility abuse or neglect. She would be happy to talk with you about any potential claim.