Florida regulators say temperatures rose to 99 degrees (37 Celsius) in a sweltering nursing home under investigation for the deaths of 12 residents after Hurricane Irma.
A Sun Sentinel report says a new document filed by the Agency for Health Care Administration says temperatures climbed highest on the second floor of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after the facility lost air conditioning. Ten victims lived on the second floor.
Federal regulations state that temperatures should not rise above 81 degrees (27 Celsius).
After reviewing the medical records of most of the home’s 141 residents, state regulators said four out of every five residents who lived on the second floor suffered dehydration and other heat-related symptoms. Forty-four percent of the 71 residents living on the ground floor also suffered those symptoms, regulators said.
The state cites dehydration among residents in its claim that “the facility failed to provide appropriate health care” and did not ensure that the 12 who died were “free from neglect.” The state says nursing home officials failed to recognize the risk of the rising temperatures and violated state law by not providing “comfortable and safe room temperature levels.”
In legal papers filed with the state, the nursing home has said it “properly monitored, hydrated and provided care and comfort for residents” while it waited for power to be restored. The nursing home also said that at no time “were any excessive temperatures experienced in the building.”
According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, the nursing home’s director of nursing told state regulators that she ordered nurses and nurses’ aides to frequently monitor residents and “offer water and ice every hour.”
Hearings before an administrative law judge are scheduled in late January in Fort Lauderdale.
A number of survivors and families of the victims are suing the nursing home.