Death fol­lowed ‘red flag’ calls

Toronto Sun - - NEWS -

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.

Nurs­ing home

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.

JOHN McCAIN

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