The tragic death of eight nursing home residents in Florida after Hurricane Irma has put a spotlight on just how the state’s seniors are being cared for in nursing home facilities.
The hurricane knocked out the electricity to the nursing home, which left residents with no air conditioning in the sweltering heat that followed the storm. Several days after the storm had passed, emergency workers received a call from the nursing home that a patient has suffered a heart attack. When they arrived at the home, they found four patients dead. Four more died later on after being transferred to the hospital.
According to officials from Broward County, the nursing home had contacted them on Tuesday to say they had lost power but said they did not need help when the county asked if they had any emergencies or medical needs. While elderly patients suffered in the extreme heat at the home before they were rescued by emergency workers, the full-staffed and opened hospital directly across the street had air conditioning.
Critics say this is just another horrific example of how little the state of Florida protects its seniors. For example, despite the requirement by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) that all hospitals and medical facilities have emergency generators that can run air conditioning and other key systems in the event the facility loses power, Florida waives that requirement for nursing homes.
Many critics say that people who mistreat pets face a more severe penalty that people who mistreat the elderly in the state. Despite the state’s “Nursing Home Residents’ Rights Act” that was enacted in 1980, the continued “tort reform” over the past few decades have left the law with little teeth to go after and punish those who neglect and mistreat the elderly patients. The state doesn’t even require these facilities to carry liability insurance.
In a discussion about this horrible event, Attorney Sean Domnick, “This goes beyond appalling. The suffering these victims must have endured in their final hours of life is heartbreaking. It is beyond comprehension that the nursing home allowed this to happen.”