IRMA MIS­ERY CON­TIN­UES

As­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties, nurs­ing homes checked Trump tours dev­as­ta­tion, praises re­cov­ery ef­forts Of­fi­cials warn vic­tims to be wary of scam­mers

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Caitlin Doorn­bos, Ryan Gille­spie and Naseem S. Miller Staff Writ­ers

Abby Dozier hasn’t heard from her 62-year-old brother, who has schizophre­nia, since be­fore Hur­ri­cane Irma struck early Mon­day.

He lives at Sum­mer Time Re­tire­ment Home near Win­ter Park, which is among nurs­ing homes and as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties through­out the state with­out power.

“There’s no way to reach them,” said Dozier of Vero Beach. “I’m wor­ried about them hav­ing no power. I don’t know how much ven­ti­la­tion they have … the heat re­ally takes its toll.”

A day af­ter eight peo­ple died in a South Florida nurs­ing home that had no power, Florida Gov. Rick Scott asked emer­gency work­ers to check on nurs­ing homes and as­sisted-liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties in their ar­eas.

First re­spon­ders across Cen­tral Florida as­sessed con­di­tions at hundreds of fa­cil­i­ties.

The door was propped open at Sum­mer Time on Thurs­day, and sev­eral peo­ple sat be­neath a cov­ered car­port in the park­ing lot. A dozen more were scat­tered through­out the lobby on couches and chairs with a sin­gle ro­tary fan push­ing air in their di­rec­tion.

Law of­fi­cers checked on the Wy­more Road fa­cil­ity Wed­nes­day and de­cided no evac­u­a­tion was nec­es­sary.

But late Thurs­day, Orange County Mayor Teresa Ja­cobs is­sued an ex­ec­u­tive or­der man­dat­ing that all nurs­ing homes, as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties and care homes for the de­vel­op­men­tally dis­abled evac­u­ate res­i­dents if they don’t have elec­tric­ity and air con­di­tion­ing.

As of Thurs­day evening, 39 of 683 nurs­ing homes in Florida — in­clud­ing one in Lake and one in Osce­ola — were with­out power, ac­cord­ing to the Florida Health Care As­so­ci­a­tion. State law re­quires nurs­ing homes and as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties to have an emer­gency-man­age­ment plan, in­clud­ing pro­vi­sions for emer­gency power, food and wa­ter af­ter a dis­as­ter.

“There’s no reg­u­la­tion that says the gen­er­a­tor has to power all the air-con­di­tion­ing or heat­ing units,” said Dr. John Po­tom­sky, a geri­a­tri­cian in Bre­vard County and past pres­i­dent of the Florida Med­i­cal Di­rec­tors As­so­ci­a­tion, which fo­cuses on post-acute and long-term care medicine. “It just gives guid­ance that it should be a safe en­vi­ron­ment for res­i­dents.”

On Wed­nes­day, Orange County Fire Res­cue evac­u­ated 82 peo­ple from Brook­dale Wekiwa Springs as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­ity near Apopka af­ter re­ceiv­ing a 911 call from a nurse. Orange County Emer­gency Man­age­ment of­fi­cials said they did not have an emer­gency-man­age­ment plan on file for Brook­dale. A spokes­woman said the com­pany has a plan but needs to up­date its or­ga­ni­za­tional chart. She de­scribed it as an “ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sue” and said Brook­dale is com­mit­ted to pre­par­ing its com­mu­ni­ties for crises.

“We’ve got about 70 pa­tients here that have been out of power, with­out wa­ter, with­out food since Sun­day, so there’s no way to tell how many peo­ple are in need of med­i­cal [care],” the nurse told a dis­patcher. “Air inside is at a tem­per­a­ture of 95. The ac­tual tem­per­a­ture is 88.”

The res­i­dents were taken to other Brook­dale prop­er­ties, com­pany spokes­woman Dana Schroer­ing said.

Forty more res­i­dents were or­dered to leave Green Tree As­sisted Liv­ing on For­est City Road north of Or­lando later Wed­nes­day. That evac­u­a­tion came af­ter fire­fight­ers re­sponded to a nurse’s call re­port­ing that a 69-year-old de­men­tia pa­tient was over­heated.

“We are out of power since this hur­ri­cane came, and you know we’re dou­blestaffed try­ing to keep hy­drated, but she doesn’t look good,” the nurse said. “It just looks like, you know, when you’re so hot.”

The ag­ing body loses its abil­ity to rec­og­nize ex­cess heat be­cause sig­nals such as thirst weaken, ex­perts said. The body also starts losing its abil­ity to sweat, so it can’t reg­u­late tem­per­a­ture. And med­i­cal con­di­tions could ren­der peo­ple im­mo­bile or un­able to think through the process of get­ting wa­ter.

“Those of us in the ag­ing com­mu­nity have known for a long time that these are the most un­der­rep­re­sented peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, with­out an ad­vo­cate,” said Dr. Rose­mary Laird, a geri­a­tri­cian in Or­lando and ex­ec­u­tive med­i­cal di­rec­tor of Florida Hos­pi­tal for Se­niors.

“It’s sadly a known prob­lem that older adults are most sus­cep­ti­ble to heat and be­com­ing symp­to­matic or dy­ing from heat stroke,” Laird said.

Be­fore Ja­cobs is­sued the ex­ec­u­tive or­der, Orange County Fire Res­cue di­rected all of its 41 sta­tions to as­sess the county’s 184 as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties and nurs­ing homes’ abil­i­ties to pro­vide power, care, food and wa­ter in the hur­ri­cane’s af­ter­math, county spokes­woman Kat Kennedy said.

The Or­lando Fire Department has been can­vass­ing se­nior cen­ters, nurs­ing homes and as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties and de­liv­er­ing ice and wa­ter to the se­nior res­i­den­tial high-rise, Kin­neret Apart­ments down­town.

On Thurs­day, fire­fight­ers and in­spec­tors con­ducted in-per­son well­ness checks at all se­nior fa­cil­i­ties in the city.

Win­ter Park first re­spon­ders checked all as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties in their ju­ris­dic­tion im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the storm, and those with­out power were rechecked daily, city spokes­woman Clarissa Howard said. By Thurs­day morn­ing, all had elec­tric­ity, she said.

Be­fore hur­ri­cane sea­son, Duke En­ergy meets with coun­ties to de­ter­mine which sites need to have power re­stored first in a mass out­age, spokes­woman Ann Marie Varga said. Typ­i­cally, these in­clude nurs­ing homes, hos­pi­tals, po­lice sta­tions and fire sta­tions.

In Semi­nole County, of­fi­cials spent the past few days call­ing nurs­ing homes and as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties and cross-check­ing power-out­age maps to make sure res­i­dents were safe.

“Most of them ei­ther had gen­er­a­tors or they got their fa­cil­i­ties back up and run­ning,” Semi­nole County of­fi­cial Jeff Cald­well said.

One Semi­nole as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­ity evac­u­ated about 22 res­i­dents to a shel­ter on Wed­nes­day be­cause the power was still out, he said. Another home sent its res­i­dents to a shel­ter in Long­wood.

Cleanup con­tin­ues: JOE BUR­BANK/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Work­ers from Sun­belt Tree Ser­vice re­move a large oak tree from a house on This­tle Lane in Mait­land on Thurs­day.

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