Faulty AC may have factored into deaths at Florida nursing home


"What happened to those calls to the governor?" Repeated phone calls to FPL brought more promises that went unmet from the utility to come out and fix the power line, according to nursing home officials.

The nursing home eventually evacuated all of its patients Wednesday morning at the order of the responding crews. Her main concern is air conditioning.

It was on that same Monday the facility first contacted Scott's office by calling a special number that Scott had created.

"When asked if they had any medical needs or emergencies, (the nursing home) did not request assistance or indicate any medical emergency existed", Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said in a statement.

Over the next few hours of Wednesday morning, the dire situation at the Rehabilitation Center for fragile, elderly people would come into clearer view.

Areas where customers are still without power are dotted across southwest and south Florida, and officials said those people likely wouldn't have their power restored until late next week. One man yelled, "Make America Great Again!"

Vega was found dead just before 3 a.m. Wednesday.

Eight of the nursing home's residents died last week after the facility's electrical system for its air conditioning stopped working in the aftermath of the hurricane that hit Florida on September 10.

Defede said that was nearly verbatim the statement the utility had offered on Wednesday.

"I am one of the many that has now been without power for more than two days as a result of Hurricane Irma", Elise McKenna, a West Palm Beach resident, told New Times via email.

On Saturday, Scott directed the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration to issue emergency rules requiring all of the state's assisted living facilities to have generators, a key source of power when electricity goes out.

Not so, according to Defede.

Local emergency management officials will be required to approve or deny the emergency management plans from residential healthcare facilities. The U.S. Coast Guard is clearing roads and searching for more storm victims.

Most of the eight residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills who died had been treated for respiratory distress, dehydration, and heat-related issues, officials said. He said that as firefighters approached the home, their carbon monoxide detectors went off, which warned them of potential danger as they went inside.

In a statement released after 6 p.m. Friday, the Florida Department of Health said it was "100 percent the responsibility of health care professionals to preserve life by acting in the best interest of the health and well-being of their patients".

In a separate statement, the Florida Department of Health's Mara Gambineri wrote "this facility is located across the street from one of Florida's largest hospitals, which never lost power and had fully operating facilities. The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills is responsible for the health and safety of their patients".

By Tuesday night, 99-year-old Albertina Vega would succumb in the suffocating heat of the facility's second floor - the first of eight residents who died. This past weekend, as Hurricane Irma battered Florida from coast to coast, hundreds of thousands of South Floridians boarded up their windows and fled to shelters, desperate to escape massive flooding and falling debris.

Numerous investigations, including a criminal investigation, have been launched in her death and the death of seven others: Bobby Owens, 84; Manuel Mario Medieta, 96; Miguel Antonio Franco, 92; Estella Hendricks, 71; Gail Nova, 71; Carolyn Eatherly, 78; and Betty Hibbard, 84.