FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A nursing home staff worker called 911 seeking help for an 84-year-old woman in cardiac arrest, citing the facility's lack of air conditioning.
"I just noticed, because we don't have any air conditioning, so I saw her slouch over," the attendant tells 911, according to audio recordings released by the city of Hollywood on Monday. "I realized that she's not breathing."
She said the nursing home was administering CPR on the woman, whose fingers "started to change color, you know, slightly blue."
The worker appeared not to readily know the address of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. "Tell me the address please somebody," she told co-workers while on the phone with 911 operators.
The Sun Sentinel and the Miami Herald sued to force the city of Hollywood to produce 911 calls on the nursing home that lost power to its air conditioning for several days after Hurricane Irma, leading to the deaths of 14 residents. More than 140 were evacuated from the facility Sept. 13, and the nursing home was shut down by state regulators.
After a court hearing Monday the city immediately released nine calls regarding the incident. Some portions were redacted to protect the names of patients and callers. The times of the calls are not noted.
They show the chaos that quickly engulfed the nursing home as patient after patient experienced difficulties. The nursing home's staff seemed stressed and had difficulty relaying basic information, including the nursing home's phone number, address and ages of the patients.
"Oh my God, this is crazy," a staffer says, while trying to locate the age of a patient in respiratory failure. "I'm trying to load up the computer. The computer is slow. I'm downstairs, but the patient is upstairs with the nurse. So kind of bear with me."
In another emergency call, the nursing home employee said the "phone line is not working," and described another woman, 81, on the facility's second floor who was in respiratory distress.
Yet another call described a man who also needed paramedics. "He had a fever. We started, ya know, like ordering tests for him and stuff but he's getting short of breath now and his other stats has dropped and he's having difficulty breathing," the staff member says.
At least one of the calls was made while paramedics were already in the building, tending to another resident.
In the lawsuit, the newspapers argued that the recordings were public records and that the city could not withhold them under any exemption to the state open-records law.
As recently as Friday, the city still was blocking the release of the records, arguing in a court brief that they were part of an active criminal investigation into the deaths.
But the newspapers said that does not shield these particular records.
In court Monday, lawyers for the city argued that the city was justified in withholding the records until police had an opportunity to interview all potential witnesses.
"The integrity of the case" would have been jeopardized had the records been released sooner, said Hollywood Police Sgt. Lyle Bein, testifying before Broward Circuit Judge Michael Gates.
(c)2017 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.