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Deaths of 12 Hollywood Nursing Home Patients Ruled Homicides

The patients died from environmental heat exposure after Hurricane Irma knocked out the power to its central air conditioning.

Deaths of 12 Hollywood Nursing Home Patients Ruled Homicides

The facility is no longer in operation.

The deaths of 12 Florida nursing home patients in the days following Hurricane Irma have been ruled homicides.

The Broward County Medical Examiner’s office says the patients at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills died from environmental heat exposure after the facility lost power to its central air conditioning during Hurricane Irma.

Attorney Geoffrey D. Smith, who represents the nursing home, says its staff had been closely monitoring patients from September 10 to September 12 and none had exhibited signs of heat exhaustion, reports NBC Miami. The attorney also says the facility never exceeded 81 degrees, which would be within the standards.

On September 13, Smith says paramedics were called after patients began showing signs of respiratory and cardiac distress. All patients were eventually evacuated across the street to Memorial Regional Hospital.

Three died in the nursing home that day, five later that day at Memorial Regional and six in subsequent days at the hospital.

The nursing home was criticized for not evacuating its patients to Memorial earlier. Memorial did not lose power during the storm.

“Hospitals are critical facilities that are supposed to be used for individual cases, not as mass evacuation centers,” says Smith.

Hollywood Hills employee Dave Long says the facility had called Florida Power and Light to fix the fuse for several days.

Robert Gould, chief communications officer at Florida Power and Light, says parts of the facility had power and Broward County did not list the facility as “critical infrastructure”.

Erika Navarro lost both of her grandparents, Cecilia Franco, 90, and Miguel Antonio Franco, 92.

“The next steps are the more important ones: Who is going to be held accountable? Are they going to go to jail? Are they just going to get a free pass and just pay money, and nothing else happens?” says Navarro. “To me, that’s more important, that people are held accountable and they actually go to jail.”

Police say it is possible that individual people could be charged in the homicides, reports the Sun-Sentinel.

The 152-bed nursing home is no longer in operation and state regulators have pushed to revoke its license – a move that is being fought by the facility.

The nursing home has faced several safety violations and citations in recent years, including two for not following generator regulations in 2014 and 2016.

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Amy Rock is Campus Safety's senior editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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