8 dead after air conditioning issue forces evacuation of South Florida nursing home

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -

Eight people are dead at a Hollywood, Fla., nursing home left without power after Hurricane Irma, officials said Wednesday afternoon.

The deaths happened at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills at 1200 N. 35th Avenue, Hollywood police said.

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Three of the deaths happened at the facility and the others died later at the hospital. The victims have been identified as Bobby Owens, 84, Manuel Mario Medieta, 96, Miguel Antonio Franco, 92, Estella Hendricks, 71, Gail Nova, 71, Carolyn Eatherly, 78, Betty Hibbard, 84, and Albertina Vega, 99.

The causes of death are yet to be determined. Gov. Rick Scott has announced the Florida Department of Children of Families and the Agency for Health Care Administration have begun an investigation.

Police officials said other patients were in critical care at Memorial Regional Hospital.

 

A total of 115 people were evacuated from the home and taken to other facilities. It’s not yet clear what conditions prompted the evacuation.

On Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio commented on the issue, tweeting that "Irma recovery exposed a serious vulnerability in our senior care network, asking Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to review whether Florida nursing home with 8 tragic deaths was in violation of any federal regulations."

Police said the building was sealed off and a criminal investigation is underway.

According to officials, the building has been without power since Hurricane Irma struck earlier this week and may have had air-conditioning issues.

Wednesday afternoon, Florida Power and Light would only confirm that “parts of the facility itself were energized by FPL."

Rob Gould, the company’s vice president and chief communications officer, said this facility was not designated as a priority by the county.

“In this case, we met with Broward in early March. This facility was not listed as a top critical infrastructure, top-tier critical infrastructure facility, and that’s what we work with the counties, for them to help identify those facilities,” said Gould.
 
Four people have died across Florida of carbon monoxide poisoning from running generators after Irma left them without power. Twelve other storm-related deaths had been reported by the Florida Division of Emergency Management as of Tuesday afternoon.

Officers are checking all of the other 42 assisted living facilities in Hollywood as a precaution, officials said.

Family members can inquire about the welfare of a loved one by calling Memorial Regional Hospital at 954-265-300 or 954-265-1074.

Portions of this article ourtesy of our news partner at NBC Miami