HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — At least six nursing home residents have died in Hollywood, Florida, according to a statement by city officials.
The deaths may be due to the loss of the home’s air-conditioning after Hurricane Irma struck Sunday, according to CNN affiliate WPLG. The causes of death are still being investigated, Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez said.
“We are conducting a criminal investigation (and) not ruling anything out at this time,” Sanchez said at a press conference Wednesday.
A statement from the nursing home, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, confirmed that it had a “prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility’s air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane.”
Three died at the nursing home, and three others died after being transported to Memorial Healthcare System facilities, city officials said.
Firefighters have evacuated 115 people from the nursing home. Others were found in critical condition, some with trouble breathing, said Hollywood spokeswoman Raelin Story.
“There are a number of critical patients,” Story said.
Another 18 patients in an adjacent behavioral health facility are also being evacuated, Story said. As a precautionary measure, police are checking the other 42 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the city of Hollywood, Sanchez said.
The hospital has set up a hotline, 954-265-1074, so that families of nursing home residents can check on their loved ones.
“The loss of these individuals is a profound tragedy,” said a statement by the Florida Health Care Association, which represents 81% of Florida’s nursing centers. They do not, however, represent the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.
“Approximately 150 facilities out of the nearly 700 (nursing) facilities in the state do not currently have full power services restored,” the statement said. The association added that it is working with state officials to identify homes without power so that utility companies could prioritize those in greatest need.
There are 683 nursing homes in Florida with over 84,000 beds, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which licenses and regulates these facilities. In addition, there are more than 3,100 assisted living facilities with over 99,000 beds.