New information has surfaced about patient deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. The toll is up to 11 residents, who died from heat exhaustion, heart failure, and other issues related to extreme heat at the facility.
Now we have new questions about accountability. Administrators at the facility made several calls to Florida Power and Light (FPL) requesting they restore power. Some parts of the facility had lost power, including a transformer needed to run the air conditioning. Although they were told that help was on the way, FPL didn't arrive for days.
Another turn in the story is about Governor Rick Scott's responsibility. Before the storm, he gave his cell number to nursing homes and encouraged them to call with emergencies.Because they didn't get a response from FPL, rehab center administrators left a message on Scott's cell phone. The call was returned, and administrators were told to call 911, which they did. When they still didn't get assistance, they called Scott's cell two more times. The governor's office released a statement:
"Every call made to the Governor from facility management was referred to the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health and quickly returned."
FPL also released a statement about the case:
"The tragic and senseless loss at Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center is the subject of a criminal homicide investigation by law enforcement," the DOH [Department of Health] noted. "Let's be clear – this facility is located across the street from one of Florida's largest hospitals, which never lost power and had fully operating facilities. It is 100 percent the responsibility of healthcare professionals to preserve life by acting in the best interest of the health and well-being of their patients."
FPL spokesperson Peter Robbins also said, "What we know now is that a portion of the facility did, in fact, have power, that there was a hospital with power across the parking lot from this facility, and that the nursing home was required to have a permanently installed, operational generator."
The nursing home is under criminal investigation and has lost its license to operate and its ability to accept Medicare funding.
- How is this story an issue of accountability, integrity, and compassion? What failures contributed to the deaths?
- How well did the FPL and governor respond to criticism? How convincing do you find their statements?
- Critics say the rehab center staff should have moved residents, for example, to the hospital across the street. What's your view of their responsibility?