HOLLYWOOD — The Hollywood Hills nursing home that became a sweltering deathtrap for nine seniors after Hurricane Irma was shut down Wednesday.
A statement released by the Agency for Health Care Administration said the center's license was suspended, and unveiled new details about the nursing home, which has a history of poor inspections by state regulators.
Hurricane Irma knocked out power to the facility's central air-conditioning on Sept 10. Three days later, police and fire rescue evacuated the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, located next door to Memorial Regional Hospital, after they got received several distress calls about the patients. All told, nine people from the nursing home died.
AHCA outlined how tthe nursing home administrators added several late entries to patients' medical records.
"This includes a facility nurse recording a patient's temperature at 101.6 degrees, but the patient was actually no longer at the facility, and had a recorded temperature 108.3 by the hospital. In a second, and very egregious case, a late entry was added that stated the patient was resting in bed with respirations even and unlabored, however, this resident had already died before this entry was made," said AHCA in a statement.
The agency said that several residents suffered respiratory or cardiac distress, and at least eight of those patients ultimately died as a result of not receiving the proper medical attention, the agency noted.
Prior to Wednesday's move, AHCA had already ordered a moratorium on new patients and suspended its participation in Medicaid and Medicare, the financial lifeblood of most long-term care facilities.
"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," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott in a statement Wednesday. "We will not stop demanding answers to these questions on behalf of every family who lost a loved one."
The nursing home filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the state, appealing its suspension from Medicaid and requesting an injunction.
Calling the home "devastated by the lives lost," the Rehabilitation Center asked a judge in Tallahassee to prevent health regulators from halting new admissions, and a suspension of the rehab center's reimbursement under Medicare and Medicaid, federal insurance programs for elderly and poor people.
Dawn Schonwetter stops to look at a memorial of flowers and messages left on the sidewalk of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Nine residents of the nursing home died in the wake of Irma, including one who was added to the death toll on Tuesday.