The Florida Health Care Association on Thursday called the deaths of eight South Florida nursing home residents who died after Hurricane Irma knocked out their power an “isolated incident” and “not representative of the larger long term care profession in Florida.”
The association advocates for “long term care providers and the elderly they serve,” according to its website.
“Florida’s long term care facilities and entire profession of caregivers join in expressing our deepest sorrow for the families of the residents who lost their lives earlier this week at one location,” the statement said.
“The investigation into this tragedy and the circumstances that may have contributed to it continues, and it would be inappropriate to comment on details until it concludes,” it added. “However, it is clear that this is an isolated incident and is not representative of the larger long term care profession in Florida.”
The eight deaths happened at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said investigators believe the deaths were heat-related, adding that a criminal investigation is underway. The chief said authorities have not ruled anything out in the deaths, including carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.
Gov. Rick Scott announced that he’s directed the Agency for Health Care Administration to issue an emergency moratorium for the facility, preventing it from admitting new patients indefinitely.
“Florida is a leader in long term care and the vast majority of facilities in our state uphold the highest standards for the residents under their care,” the association’s statement said. “Our centers’ top priority is always the safety and well-being of their residents, especially during the difficult situation a major hurricane creates.
“A natural disaster of this magnitude presents extreme challenges to every sector, especially those entrusted with the care of Florida’s aging seniors. We continue to maintain close communications with local, state, and federal officials and the appropriate utility companies and aid organizations to ensure that power is restored to every facility in Florida as soon as possible.
“As of this morning, we were informed that approximately 64 of the state’s 683 nursing facilities do not currently have full power services restored. We remain committed to providing vital support to meet the immediate needs of residents and staff until this crisis has passed.”
In related news, firefighters also helped relocate 122 people late Wednesday from two assisted living centers near Orlando that had been without power since Hurricane Irma.
In Coral Gables, an apartment building was evacuated after authorities said its lack of power made it unsafe for elderly tenants. And at the 15,000-resident Century Village retirement community in Pembroke Pines, where there were also widespread outages, rescue workers went door to door in the 94-degree heat checking on residents and bringing ice, water and meals.
The Associated Press contributed to this post, republished with permission.