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Tragedy Faced in Nursing Home After Hurricane Irma

In times of crisis, reliable nursing home care is more crucial than ever. With residents already in need of living assistance, natural disasters only intensify reliance on their caretakers. In the wake of Hurricane Irma, a nursing home tragedy occurred. Although the storm weakened and lessened the damage, the lack of electricity after caused the usual Florida heat to be that much more intensified. Eight Hollywood nursing home residents died after Irma left the building without air conditioning and in sweltering heat.

It is devastating to think of the oven-like conditions that the residents had to endure after the severe storm hit Florida. Nursing homes & Adult Living Facilities (ALFs) are legally responsible for the safety of their patients and residents have certain rights and protections to ensure that suitable care and services are provided to them.

As South Florida natives, we are no stranger to hurricanes and the subsequent preparations pre- and post-storm. Nursing homes need to have a system in place that ensures all staff and residents will be safe during the storm. Having a working plan to keep residents and patients safe is a requirement for Florida’s licensed health care facilities such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospices.

State law requires the facilities’ management plan to include:

  1. Risk assessment and planning
  2. Policies and procedures
  3. Communication plan
  4. Training and testing

Plans should include things like how people will be evacuated in the case of emergency, plans for food and water, establishing who is in charge during an emergency, etc.

It can be emotionally painful and difficult to place a loved one in a nursing home but once you’ve made that decision, it’s important to choose the correct facility and be aware of the rights your loved one deserves.

While considering which nursing home to place your loved one, look out for these red flags.

  1. A history of violations. Because there are many nursing homes that are guilty of abuse, mistreatment and negligent injuries, it’s important to do your research online. Many online sites provide ratings to give you insight on reputation.
  2. A high number of violations. Severity is important, but it’s even more alarming if the facility has a high number of violations that aren’t addressed or fixed subsequently.
  3. High Staff Turnover. It is a good sign of a comfortable home when the staff is happy. If the staff is constantly changing there might be an internal reason and doesn’t positively reflect the facility as a whole.
  4. Residents lack independence. No one wants to live in a prison-like living situation. Obviously, patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia shouldn’t be left to wander off, but patients should be able to enjoy making decisions about their environment. You want your nursing home to be staffed with people who treat the residents as their equal, not talking down to them.
  5. Bad impression. If you feel uneasy in your gut. Sometimes you just know when something feels off and you need to follow that intuition. Trust your instincts.

If you or a loved one has experienced negligence or emotional distress at the hand of your trusted nursing home facility or ALF, please call 1-800-ASK-FREE (275-3733) immediately for a free consultation with an experienced, compassionate nursing home abuse lawyer.