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Regulators move to permanently shut down nursing home after 14 died without AC

Megan O'Matz, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Weather News

Top managers also were not on hand during the morning crisis, having worked several days straight as the hurricane approached and landed. The facility administrator, Jorge Carballo, left slightly before midnight on Sept. 12, according to AHCA.

The director of nursing, Maria Colon, left the afternoon of Sept. 11 and did not return until the emergency broke. She'd instructed her staff to monitor residents frequently and offer water and ice every hour, according to the state.

The first paramedics to respond about 3 a.m. on Sept. 13 found the conditions in the building "untenable due to lack of functioning AC," the state complaint says.

The first resident who was hospitalized had an extraordinarily high body temperature of 107 degrees. Emergency room doctors diagnosed her with heat stroke, gave her IV fluids, put ice packs on her underarms and neck, and lowered the temperature in the hospital room to 55 degrees.

In another case, paramedics found a nurse performing CPR on one unresponsive man, then noticed his roommate had also stopped breathing.

In its case for closure, the state argues that nursing home officials on the evening of Sept. 10 reported to a Florida Health STAT information database that everything was operational "including heating and cooling." The nursing home, however, had been without air conditioning for several hours by then.

Throughout the ordeal, administrators from the nursing home contacted Florida Power & Light repeatedly and left several messages on the governor's cellphone, asking for help getting the power restored. They said they were assured by the utility and state regulators that the request was a priority and had been "escalated." Power was not reconnected, however, until after numerous residents had died.

(c)2017 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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