Daughter of Hollywood nursing home residents files lawsuit

The daughter of a man who died at a Hollywood nursing home after Hurricane Irma has filed a lawsuit against the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

Margarita Navarro is suing the facility, claiming negligence that led to the wrongful deaths of Miguel Antonio Franco, 93, and 10 others after the air conditioning stopped working in the days after the storm.

Navarro’s family joined her attorneys Monday at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, the facility failed to secure “reliable and effective air-conditioning systems to operate in the event of an inevitable and foreseeable power outage,” leaving the elderly residents to suffer for days “in extreme heat and deplorable conditions.”

The Agency for Health Care Administration has suspended the license of the facility. 

According to the suspension order, residents at the facility had body temperatures of more than 100 degrees when they arrived at Memorial Regional Hospital, across the street from the nursing home.

Justin Senior, secretary for the state agency, wrote in the order that the facility also made many “late entries” into patients’ medical records, claiming that the entries were made “under dubious circumstances” hours after a nurse visited the patients.

Nursing home administrator Jorge Carballo blamed the incident on “a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility’s air-conditioning system as a result of the hurricane.”

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11th Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills resident dies

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. 

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10th resident of Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills dies

A 10th resident of a Hollywood nursing home that had an air-conditioning issue after Hurricane Irma has died.

Martha Murray, 94, died Wednesday, the Hollywood Police Department announced Thursday.

Murray was the most recent resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills to die from heat-related issues in the days after Irma.

“It’s disgusting,” Gov. Rick Scott said. “My heart goes out to every one of those family members who lost a loved one.” 

The Agency for Health Care Administration announced Wednesday that it issued an emergency suspension order on the license of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. 

According to the order, residents at the facility had body temperatures of more than 100 degrees when they arrived at Memorial Regional Hospital, across the street from the nursing home.

Justin Senior, secretary for the state agency, wrote in the order that the facility also made many “late entries” into patients’ medical records, claiming that the entries were made “under dubious circumstances” hours after a nurse visited the patients.

One of the people who died last week had a body temperature of 109.9 degrees Fahrenheit, while others had body temperatures of 108.5, 108.3 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit, the order claims.

The AHCA previously banned the facility from admitting new patients and from receiving Medicaid. The nursing home has filed a lawsuit trying to block those orders.

“We just simply can’t allow natural disasters like a hurricane to knock out power and then to put the frail, elderly’s lives in jeopardy because of the heat,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said.

A tip line has been established by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Investigators are asking anyone with information about the deaths or the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills between the dates of Sept. 9 and Sept. 13 to call (866) 452-3461.  

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State suspends license of Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills

A Hollywood nursing home in the midst of a criminal investigation into the deaths of nine residents after Hurricane Irma had its license suspended Wednesday.

The Agency for Health Care Administration announced Wednesday that it issued an emergency suspension order on the license of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

According to the order, residents at the facility had body temperatures of more than 100 degrees when they arrived at Memorial Regional Hospital, across the street from the nursing home.

Justin Senior, secretary for the state agency, wrote in the order that the facility also made many “late entries” into patients’ medical records, claiming that the entries were made “under dubious circumstances” hours after a nurse visited the patients.

One of the people who died last week had a body temperature of 109.9 degrees Fahrenheit, while others had body temperatures of 108.5, 108.3 and 107 degrees Fahrenheit, the order claims.

Hollywood police said Tuesday that a ninth person died after an air conditioning issue that nursing home administrator Jorge Carballo blamed on “a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility’s air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane.”

The AHCA previously banned the facility from admitting new patients and from receiving Medicaid. The nursing home has filed a lawsuit trying to block those orders.

“As more information has come to light on this egregious situation, this facility absolutely cannot continue to have access to patients,” Senior said in a statement. “This facility failed its residents multiple times throughout this horrifying ordeal. It is unfathomable that a medical professional would not know to call 911 immediately in an emergency situation. The facility also entered late entries into medical records claiming safe temperatures for patients while those same patients were across the street dying in the emergency room with temperatures of over 108 degrees Fahrenheit.”

According to the order, several residents suffered respiratory or cardiac distress between 1:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. Sept. 13 at the nursing home, which was using eight portable coolers and fans in the halls while it was without air conditioning.

“The action AHCA took today to close the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center sends a clear message — if you do not protect the patients that are entrusted in your care, you will be held accountable,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. “The more we learn about this facility’s reckless behavior, the more concerning it becomes that the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center made the decision not to immediately call 911 or evacuate to one of the state’s largest hospitals located across the street — which never lost power. We will not stop demanding answers to these questions on behalf of every family who lost a loved one.”

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Basketball court feud ends with drive-by shooting

A Hollywood family packed up their things from their home Wednesday afternoon as police stood guard outside. 

The night before, someone fired multiple rounds into their house, with three children under the age of 7 inside.

The victims said the incident happened over a feud on the basketball court. 

Donna Rivera said the shooting stems from a fight at Beverly Park, where her 18-year-old son went to play basketball.

“My son’s team lost, so they were arguing that they were cheating,” Rivera said.

She said at some point the fight turned physical and eventually led to harassment at their doorstep.

“The first attempt was the brick through the window,” Rivera said.

The brick was thrown near the bed where her grandson sleeps.

About an hour and a half later, Rivera said bullets started flying.

“This bullet up here came right through the door and wedged in the wall over here, over my daughter’s bed,” Rivera said, pointing to the bullet hole.

No one was hurt in the shooting.

Rivera said she wants those responsible to pay for what they did.

“Attempted murder for sure, because the house was full of people,” she said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.

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Florida suspends license of nursing home with deaths after Hurricane Irma

While a Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills was at Memorial Regional Hospital with a recorded temperature of 108.3, authorities say a nurse at the center recorded the patient’s temperature at 1.1.6 degrees. 

Authorities also said that after a resident died, a nurse at the facility reported the resident was “resting in bed with respiration even and unlabored.” The two reporting irregularities were among the discrepancies the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration found while investigating the nursing home. 

AHCA decided to suspend the license of the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, where nine died after Hurricane Irma. The agency’s initial investigation determined the residents did not receive timely medical care.

“No amount of emergency preparedness could have prevented the gross medical and criminal recklessness that occurred at this facility,” Agency Secretary Justin Senior said in a statement. 

Carlos Canal, 93, was the ninth resident to die Tuesday night, according to a statement from the Hollywood Police Department. Detectives were still investigating what caused the nine deaths at the facility housing 145 people. 

Albertina Vega, who suffered from dementia, was the first to die after the storm. She would have celebrated her 100th birthday Oct. 10. 

Facility employees told police officers the storm knocked down a tree that took out the transformer, which was meant to help power the air-conditioning system. They contacted Florida Power & Light, which had not restored power to the area after the storm, Sept. 10.

Natasha Anderson, the chief executive of Larkin Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services, which shares a building with the nursing home, said she called the Florida Department of Health to report the issue Sept 11 and Sept. 12.

The facility’s administrators decided not to evacuate the building despite the risk of heat-related health issues. One patient had tachycardia at 1:30 a.m. Sept. 13. An hour later, another suffered respiratory distress. Three suffered cardiac arrest.  

When the heat-related symptoms at the nursing home became obvious at Memorial Regional Hospital, which is across the street from the nursing home, hospital nurses took initiative and got the other patients out.

Hollywood police later identified the other victims as Carolyn Eatherly, 78, Gail Nova, 71, Estella Hendricks, 71, Bobby Owens, 84, Miguel Franco, 92, Betty Hibbard, 84, and Manuel Mario Mendieta, 96. 

Gov. Rick Scott terminated the facility from the Medicaid program. 

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