Death followed ‘red flag’ calls
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The first 911 call from the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills didn’t sound ominous: A nursing home patient had an abnormal heartbeat.
An hour later, came a second call: a patient had trouble breathing. Then came the third call. A patient had gone into cardiac arrest — and died.
Over the next few hours of Wednesday morning, the dire situation at the centre would come into clearer view. Three days after Hurricane Irma hit Florida, the centre still didn’t have air conditioning. Eight people died and 145 patients had to be moved out of the stifling-hot facility.
On Saturday, Gov. Rick Scott ordered the directors of the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Elder Affairs to issue emergency rules to keep residents safe in health-care facilities during emergencies.
In Hollywood Wednesday morning, Judy Frum, the chief nursing officer at the air conditioned hospital across the street from the rehabilitation centre, was working in the Irma command centre when the emergency room notified her that three patients had been brought in from the nursing home.
“It set off a red flag that something might be going on,” said Frum, who grabbed a colleague and hurried across the street.
When they arrived, paramedics were treating a critically ill patient near the entrance. She saw harried staff members trying to get patients into a room where fans were blowing.
The centre had some electricity, but not enough to power the air conditioning.
Frum called her facility, Memorial Regional Hospital, to issue a mass casualty alert. As many as 100 hospital employees rushed over to help.
“The scene on site when I got there was chaotic,” said Randy Katz, Memorial’s emergency services director. Protesters flood the streets of St. Louis after a judge found a white former police officer, not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a black man.