Hurricane Irma was a Category 4 storm that swept through North and Central Florida in early Sept. 2017. This storm brought destruction and tragedy for many, but as of early Jan. 2019, some are now getting justice.
The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has been formally charged with negligence as reported by News4Jax in January of this year. These charges have resulted in a revocation of the nursing home’s license as well as the deaths of 12 residents.
In Sept. 2017, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills lost air conditioning in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. According to the prosecution, approximately three days after the storm passed, temperatures began to reach as high as 99℉ on the upper floors. The Sun Sentinel then reported that the Rehabilitation Center did not evacuate patients despite being across the street from a fully functioning hospital despite violating Federal regulations requiring evacuation of residents if temperatures exceeded 81℉ and cannot be fixed.
This violation meant that the nursing home maintained what one administrative law judge deemed “an unsafe environment.” The nursing home did not disclose these heightened temperatures, and after several days in this environment 12 residents had passed away.
Additional evidence of negligence was uncovered by state health regulators who found that, in a building with 141 residents, 80% of residents who lived above the first floor were found to suffer from dehydration or other effects of heat exposure. In the days after the storm, the center was closed, and its license was suspended.
The legal proceedings for the case began in Jan. 2018, and as of Jan. 2019, they have concluded. This case was a simple matter of proving guilt, but ultimately this was not enough. Revoking the Center’s license was a correct action, and justice may have been carried out, but this was still too little too late.
The truth of the matter is that the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills committed an act of negligence that cost a dozen people their lives when medical attention was mere feet away. This type of neglect shows why vigilance and accountability is a vital necessity in checking nursing homes and ensuring the safety of the residents entrusted into their care.