■ 911 calls raised first red flags of nurs­ing home hor­ror in Hol­ly­wood, Florida.

Florida is­sues new rules to sur­vive power out­age

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Terry Spencer, Jen­nifer Kay and Tim Reynolds

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 Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter for frag­ile, el­derly peo­ple would come into clearer view. Three days after Hur­ri­cane Irma hit Florida, the cen­ter still didn’t have air con­di­tion­ing, and it ul­ti­mately be­came the worst tragedy in a state al­ready full of them. Eight peo­ple died and 145 pa­tients had to be moved out of the sti­fling-hot fa­cil­ity, many of them on stretch­ers or in wheel­chairs.

Author­i­ties launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to fig­ure out what went wrong and who, if any­one, was to blame. Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Bill Nel­son, D-Fla., made no ef­fort to hide their anger and frus­tra­tion.

On Satur­day, 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.

This re­quires all as­sisted liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties and nurs­ing homes to ob­tain am­ple re­sources, in­clud­ing gen­er­a­tors and the ap­pro­pri­ate amount of fuel to main­tain com­fort­able tem­per­a­tures for at least 96 hours fol­low­ing a power out­age.

The Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter said the hur­ri­cane knocked out a trans­former that pow­ered the air con­di­tion­ing. The cen­ter said in a de­tailed time­line of events re­leased Fri­day that it re­peat­edly was told by Florida Power and Light that it would fix the trans­former, but the util­ity did not show up un­til Wed­nes­day morn­ing, hours after the first pa­tients be­gan hav­ing emer­gen­cies.

Rose­mary Cooper, a li­censed prac­ti­cal nurse at the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ter, de­fended the staff ’s work but de­clined to dis­cuss specifics.

“The peo­ple who were work­ing there worked hard to make a good out­come for our pa­tients,” she said in a brief in­ter­view be­fore hang­ing up on a re­porter. “We cared for them like fam­ily.”

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