An 11th patient of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills nursing home died Friday, as detectives continued a criminal investigation to figure out who failed to protect the vulnerable residents after Hurricane Irma.
After the Sept. 13 incident, health care regulators, state legislators, emergency management officials and nursing home owners have made promises to do everything in their power to protect nursing home patients.
The state's regulator shut down the facility Thursday, after the nursing home filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Leon County against state orders to cut off the facility's Medicaid payments and block new admissions. Gov. Rick Scott also wants nursing homes to have generators and fuel to keep power on for 96 hours.
"We can prevent these things -- which never should have happened in the first place -- from happening again," State Sen. Lauren Book said in a statement after filing legislation to require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have working generators.
Nursing homes are already required to maintain temperatures between 71 and 81 degrees. A bill proposed about 11 years ago, would have required the facilities to have generators. It passed the Senate, but industry lobbyists put a stop to it in the Senate.
Authorities Broward Medical Examiner Dr. Craig Mallak identified the 11th victim as Alice Thomas, but hasn't released the cause of death for any of the residents and patients.
The 94-year-old patient who died Friday was hospitalized after the temperatures of one of the patients who died at the hospital was recorded to be as high as 109.9 degrees, according to authorities.
Administrators at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, owned by Larkin Community Hospital, blame Florida Power & Light for not restoring power early enough, as they followed an approved emergency plan.
Natasha Anderson, an administrator of Larkin Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services, the psychiatric facility in the same building, reported that without air conditioning the nursing home residents and the psychiatric patients were using fans and spot coolers.
Authorities and relatives blame the nursing staff for not evacuating the facility and for not notifying authorities that their vulnerable patients were in danger.
Relatives believe that if the Memorial Regional Hospital staff had not ran over to help when they noticed a pattern at the emergency room, more of the nursing home residents and patients would have died.
Authorities identified the ten others who died as Albertina Vega, 99, Manuel Mario Mendieta, 96, Martha Murray, 94, Carlos Canal, 93, Antonio Franco, 92, Bobby Owens, 84, Betty Hibbard, 84, Carolyn Eatherly, 78, Estella Hendricks, 71, and Gail Nova, 70.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement asked anyone with information about the deaths of the nursing home residents to call 1-866-452-3461.