The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills
The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills was a private nursing home located in Hollywood, Florida, United States with 152 beds. It was owned by Jack Michel and affiliated with Larkin Community Hospital. It was acquired by Hollywood Property Investments in 2015.
The facility offered services such as advanced nursing care, 24 hour nursing care, tube feeding and nutritional management.
The facility was rated below average on inspections, staffing and quality of care, according to a federal scorecard.
After the air conditioning system failed due to a power outage during Hurricane Irma in 2017, residents suffered from sweltering heat inside the facility. The facility had previously been cited for failing to maintain the emergency generator. Although portable A/C units were in use, engineer expert William Crawford later testified in a deposition in February 2018 that the A/C units were insufficient and actually made conditions worse. Crawford stated that heat would have been vented upwards, causing temperatures on the second floor to have possibly reached between 100 and 110 °F (38 and 43 °C), while the remainder of the facility was well above 81 °F (27 °C), the maximum temperature allowed by state law. Additionally, for unknown reasons, the nursing home was not listed on FPL's priority restoration list. After multiple 9-1-1 calls from the nursing home on September 13, paramedics and staff from a nearby hospital arrived at the scene and found many patients suffering from heat stroke or a fever, with some having a body temperature as high as 109 °F (43 °C). A total of 145 patients were transported to nearby Memorial Regional Hospital due to respiratory distress and heat-related issues, though at least 8 died at the nursing home. with a total of 12 patients ultimately perishing. Initially, 14 fatalities were linked to the loss of air conditioning at the nursing home, though two of those deaths were later considered unrelated to the incident.
A moratorium on admissions was placed by the Agency for Health Care Administration. It was removed from Medicaid. The Hollywood Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement both opened a criminal investigation into the deaths at the center, which city officials have said continued to operate with little or no air conditioning after power was cut off by Irma. In a press release the company stated, "The Center and its medical and administrative staff diligently prepared for the impact of Hurricane Irma". A lawyer hired by the family of one victim stated that the facility had more than a week to prepare and accused the nursing home of putting profits ahead of safety. In October, Governor Scott implemented emergency rules requiring assisted living facilities and nursing homes to have generators that are capable of operating air conditioners for up to four days in the event of a power outage. On November 22, the 12 deaths at the nursing home were ruled to be homicides by heat exposure. Court hearings for the potential permanent revocation of the nursing home's license began on January 29, 2018.
The deaths at the Hollywood Hills nursing home prompted an immediate response from Florida lawmakers. Governor Scott signed an executive order mandating nursing facilities to have plans in place to supply emergency power for four days in the event of a power outage. Calling the incident "a tragedy of gargantuan proportion", Representative Frederica Wilson proposed all nursing and assisted-living facilities have backup generators and the ability to run air conditioning with generator power. By September 19, Senator Lauren Book filed a bill that would require such facilities to be able to use generator power for five days. About twelve bills related to nursing homes and generators were filed in the 2018 Florida Legislative session.
An emergency order on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) suspended the home's license to operate, after the deaths in the aftermath of Irma. On the same day, the facility closed permanently, laying off 245 people.
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