The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, the nursing home facility in Broward County where nin residents have now died in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, had its license permanently suspended by the state on Wednesday.
The action by the Agency for Health Care Administration permanently suspends the facility’s ability to operate a nursing home and prohibits the facility from admitting any patients.
“The action AHCA took today to close the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center sends a clear message – if you do not protect the patients that are entrusted in your care, you will be held accountable,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a written statement released by his office. “The more we learn about this facility’s reckless behavior, the more concerning it becomes that the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center made the decision not to immediately call 911 or evacuate to one of the state’s largest hospitals located across the street – which never lost power.”
Scott says the state will not stop “demanding answers to these questions on behalf of every family who lost a loved one.”
AHCA, which is investigating what happened at the facility, says initial findings revealed patients did not receive the necessary care after Irma knocked out the facility’s air conditioning. The agency says the patients weren’t moved in a timely manner from the nursing home to an air-conditioned hospital located across the street.
The agency reports the body temperatures of some of the patients who died ranged from 107 to 109.9 degrees.
AHCA also noted that “late entries” were made on patient records hours after nurses visited the patients, which the agency says portrays an inaccurate description of what happened at the facility.
“As more information has come to light on this egregious situation, this facility absolutely cannot continue to have access to patients,” said AHCA Secretary Justin Senior. “This facility failed its residents multiple times throughout this horrifying ordeal. It is unfathomable that a medical professional would not know to call 911 immediately in an emergency situation.”
According to the agency, several residents at the nursing home suffered respiratory or cardiac distress between 1:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on Sept. 13. AHCA says those that died did not receive the medical attention they deserved.
Investigators say later that day the staff at the facility added entries to patients’ records, including a facility nurse who recorded a patient’s temperature at 101.6 degrees, but the patient was actually no longer at the facility. That patient’s temperature was recorded at 108.3 degrees by the hospital.
In a second case, AHCA says an entry into a patient’s medical record stated the patient was resting in bed, however the resident had died before that entry was made..
“No amount of emergency preparedness could have prevented the gross medical and criminal recklessness that occurred at this facility,” Senior said. “For that reason we will suspend their license and completely terminate them from the Medicaid program. We will continue to do everything in our power to protect patients in Florida – especially those who are frail and can’t take care of themselves.”