At least eight elderly people died and several others suffered a serious injury at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after Hurricane Irma swept through and a tree fell onto a transformer that powered the center's air conditioning system.
A total of 145 nursing home patients were evacuated, including 141 who lived at The Rehabilitation Center and four who were staying at the adjoining Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services, a psychiatric facility.
All of the evacuees were transferred to local hospitals.
Raelin Storey, director of public affairs for the City of Hollywood said that the leading cause of death was under investigation to determine if it was heat-related. The initial investigation showed that the facility's air conditioning system was not fully functional. The facility was excessively hot, although portable A/C units were being used.
Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez said the nursing facility may have been flying under the radar with the city. The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills was licensed by the state, but it had never received a visit from a city task force assigned to monitor nursing homes.
Based on the reports, injury or death at this nursing home may have been the result of negligent care, or potentially even gross negligence, if there was willful, wanton disregard for the safety of the nursing home residents. If so, all those responsible could potentially face punitive damages, in addition to criminal penalties and punishment and civil claims for wrongful death and nursing home negligence.
The purpose of a malpractice lawsuit is not just to recover economic damages but also to punish or deter companies who fail to properly care for our nation's elderly people. For help with an injury case involving nursing home neglect, please feel free to contact The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary today.
About The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills
The scene of eight deaths in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, reports indicate that the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has received below-average ratings from state regulators.
According to the Florida Department of Health, the center is licensed as a pharmacy and according to the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration, the facility is also licensed as a nursing home. The type of license is important for understanding the rules and injury law that applies. Different facilities have different rules and different requirements under the law.
In just the two years since it was licensed, the Agency for Healthcare Administration notes several prior complaints and citations against this facility. For example, a 2016 investigative report noted that the facility had as much as an 8% rate in medication errors during their observation.
According to another 2016 report from the Agency for Healthcare Administration, the facility failed to maintain the emergency generator to manufacturer and code requirements. This deficient practice affected 7 of the 7 smoke compartments and every elderly person in these areas. Further, the findings stated that the facility was not able to produce any written documentation to substantiate that the emergency generator, which was a temporary generator, had been replaced nor had plans for a permanent generator installation.
In March of 2017, the facility was cited for additional violations of Florida law, according to an investigative report.
Florida's Two-Year Statute of Limitations for Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Under both Florida's Wrongful Death Act and Florida's Nursing Home laws, a victim or his or her Estate has two years from the date of the elder abuse to file a claim against all parties who may be responsible for the injuries or death of the resident. Under Florida's nursing home law, any action for damages must be started within:
- Two years from the time the incident giving rise to the legal action occurred or
- Two years from the time the incident is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence
It is heartbreaking that these elderly residents had to endure pain and suffering over the days following Hurricane Irma. For cases involving nursing home abuse please feel free to contact our office today to discuss a potential claim with our nursing home abuse lawyer. If you have a family member that has been abused while staying in a nursing home, please feel free to call 305.416.9805 or submit your question online for a free consultation. Our Miami-based negligence attorney will investigate the personal injury cases, fight to get answers and if merited, file a personal injury or wrongful death claim.