At least eight people died and several others were injured at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after Hurricane Irma swept through and a tree fell onto a transformer that powered the air conditioning system.
A total of 145 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 causes of the deaths are under investigation to determine if any of them were heat-related.
The initial investigation has shown 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 home may have been flying under the radar with the city. The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills is licensed by the state, but it has never received a visit from a city task force assigned to monitor nursing homes.
Based on the reports, the deaths and injuries at this nursing home may be the result of negligence, or potentially even gross negligence, if there was a willful, wanton disregard for the safety of the 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 negligence.
The purpose of a lawsuit is not just to recover damages but also to punish or deter companies who fail to properly care for our nation's elderly. For help with a 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. According to the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration, the facility is also licensed as a nursing home. The type of license is important to understanding the rules and laws that apply to it. 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% medication error rate during their observation.
According to a 2016 report from the Agency for Healthcare Administration, the facility failed to maintain the emergency generator to manufacturer and code requirements. This deficient practice affects 7 of 7 smoke compartments and all occupants in these areas. Further, the findings stated that the facility was not able to produce any written documentation to substantiate the emergency generator, which is a temporary generator, had been replaced nor had plans for a permanent generator installation been submitted as required by the letter from Office of Plans and Construction.
In March of 2017, the facility was cited for additional violations of Florida law, according to an investigative report.
Florida Two-Year Statute of Limitations
Under both Florida's Wrongful Death Act and Florida's Nursing Home laws, a victim or his/her Estate has two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit 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 commenced within
- Two years from the time the incident giving rise to the 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 frail and elderly residents had to endure pain and suffering over the past few days following Hurricane Irma. If you are interested, please feel free to contact our office today to discuss a potential claim with a nursing home lawyer. If you had a family member staying at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, please feel free to call 305.416.9805 or submit your question online for a free consultation. Our Miami-based attorney will investigate the case, fight to get answers as to what happened, and if merited, file a personal injury or wrongful death claim.