Update: 8 seniors dead from Hurricane Irma

Eight seniors in a South Florida nursing home have died from Hurricane Irma.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills sustained an apparent electrical failure that knocked out the air conditioning. More than 100 residents were evacuated Wednesday morning. Many had trouble breathing and were treated at nearby hospitals.

The home’s administrator, Jorge Carballo, said in a statement the transformer connected to the air conditioning system had experienced a “prolonged power failure.” He said staff set up mobile cooling units and fans and tried to keep residents hydrated and comfortable.

The Hollywood Police Department has opened a criminal investigation into the eight resident deaths, and investigators from the state attorney general’s office are also involved. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has ordered a moratorium on nursing home admissions.

“I am going to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place,” Scott said in a statement. “Although the details of these reported deaths are still under investigation, this situation is unfathomable. Every facility that is charged with caring for patients must take ever action and precaution to keep their patients safe—especially patients that are in poor health.”

State and federal regulations require nursing home residents be evacuated if it is too hot in the facility. Starting in November, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Emergency Preparedness Regulation will require facilities to have alternate sources of energy to maintain temperatures to protect resident health and safety.

[Editor’s note: This story has been modified since its original publication to include additional details and an updated death count.]

Topics: Operations