Florida Nursing Home Accused of Cover-up After 10 Deaths During Hurricane Irma

A Florida nursing home is accused of falsifying medical records that claimed a patient was in bed and breathing as normal–when in reality the person had already died due to heat-related illnesses at the facility after Hurricane Irma, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). 

The Hollywood Hills nursing home, 20 miles north of Miami, lost power like millions of homes and businesses in the state during the storm, creating a hotbox for residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. As of Thursday, the death toll from the facility has risen to 10.

AHCA said the facility made a number of inaccurate entries to medical records that were recorded hours after a nurse visited patients, the most egregious included a patient who was resting in bed with unlabored breathing but had already died. Another included imputing a patient’s body temperature at 101.6 degrees after the person was already at the hospital with a recorded temperature of 108.3 degrees, state records show.

“[They] entered late entries into medical records claiming safe temperatures for patients while those same patients were across the street dying in the emergency room with temperatures of over 108 degrees Fahrenheit,” said AHCA Secretary Justin Senior.

The state’s health care administration agency also revoked the home’s license, calling the facility a failure to its patients, who ended up in the hospital with body temperatures from 107 to 109.9 degrees, a condition in which AHCA says was “far too late to be saved.”

Florida Governor Rick Scott also came under fire after the facility pointed the blame to him, telling the Miami Herald officials called Scott’s private cell phone twice, which he gave out publicly for issues.

The facility contends “protocol was followed”—even though it did not evacuate residents until five patients had health issues, three of whom died.

Scott argues that despite the facility's calls to his phone, the electric company and other officials, the home should have called 911 first, The Miami Herald reported.

“No amount of finger-pointing by the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Facility…will hide the fact that this healthcare facility delayed to do their basic duty to protect life,” Scott said.

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