Po­lice in­ves­ti­gate nurs­ing home deaths

Otago Daily Times - - The World -

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

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