Police investigate nursing home deaths
FORT MYERS: Police obtained a search warrant yesterday in their criminal investigation of the deaths of eight elderly patients exposed to sweltering heat inside a Miamiarea nursing home left with little or no air conditioning after Hurricane Irma struck.
The loss of life in Hollywood, Florida, brought the overall death toll from Irma to 82. Several hardhit Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, accounted for more than half the fatalities.
The eight deaths at the Rehabilitation Centre at Hollywood Hills, days after Irma struck, stirred outrage at what many saw as a preventable tragedy, and heightened concerns about the vulnerability of the state’s large elderly population amid lingering power outages.
Police, assisted in their inves tigation by state and federal regulators, have said little about circumstances leading to the deaths of the patients, who ranged in age from 71 to 99.
Medical workers from an adjacent hospital who assisted in evacuating the centre have recounted a scene of chaos and stifling conditions as panicky staff scrambled to move overheated patients into a room where fans were blowing.
Doctors and fire officials decided to transfer all the patients to the hospital, where dozens were treated for respiratory distress, dehydration and heat exhaustion, officials said.
Of the 141 patients who were evacuated, 70 were discharged from the hospital yesterday.
The centre, which police sealed off as a crime scene, was ordered closed to new admissions by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration. — Reuters