FLORIDA – At least eight nursing home residents have died in Hollywood, Florida, according to a statement by city officials.
The deaths may be due to the loss of the home’s air-conditioning after Hurricane Irma struck Sunday, according to CNN affiliate WPLG. The causes of death are still being investigated, Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez said.
“We are conducting a criminal investigation (and) not ruling anything out at this time,” Sanchez said at a press conference Wednesday.
A statement from the nursing home, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, confirmed that it had a “prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility’s air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane.”
Temperatures reached into the 90s Tuesday and Wednesday in Hollywood.
“I am going to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a statement.
“If they find that this facility was not meeting the state’s high standards of care, they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Scott’s statement said.
The facility reported yesterday that its fans and spot coolers were in working order, and that it had power, according to the statement.
“Parts of the facility itself were energized” by Florida Power and Light, according to the company’s communications director, Rob Gould. “Can’t give you anything more specific than that at this point.”
Hospital administrators were told to dial 911 if they believed anyone was at risk, the governor’s statement said.
The nursing home has had a list of safety violations and citations, including two for not following generator regulations in 2014 and 2016. In both instances, the nursing home corrected these deficiencies.
The eight dead ranged in age from 71 to 99, authorities said. Four victims died in the nursing home and detectives had to recover one body from a funeral home, city officials said. The Broward County medical examiner has yet to determine whether all eight deaths are heat-related.