Five patients died at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, a result of a failure in its cooling systems. Workers reportedly tried to keep residents cool with cold drinks, fans, ice and cold towels as temperatures reached into the 80s.
He added: 'If they find that this facility was not meeting the state's high standards of care, they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law'.
It was reported that a quarter of homes in the Florida Keys - a series of low-lying islands - were destroyed in the hurricane. The nursing center lost power during the storm and had working generators, but a kitchen worker said those were being used to cook and not for air conditioning. "Can't give you anything more specific than that at this point".
In South Carolina, where Irma brought rain, wind and flooding, utilities reported more than 63,000 customers were without service on Wednesday morning.
The nursing home has had a list of safety violations and citations, including two for not following generator regulations in 2014 and 2016. However, the nursing home itself does have power.
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Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said she had raised concerns with the utility on Tuesday about getting power to senior homes, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. He said at no time did the facility communicate any imminent threats to its patients.
He said most of the patients admitted to the hospital have been treated for respiratory distress, dehydration and heat-related issues. Also, information released by the state said 44 nursing homes were evacuated or closed. Sanchez said precautionary checks would be done on Hollywood's 42 other nursing homes. "However, it is clear that this is an isolated incident and is not representative of the larger long-term care profession in Florida".
Relatives of Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills patients are asked to not go to the hospital to check on their loved ones, instead they should call (954) 265-1074 to check on them.
It left close to 13 million people in Florida without power and 180,000 without a home.
"Here is one of several, up to 30, or so drone operators that are helping ups to asses the damage and ultimately the damage we need to overcome to get the lights back on", said Jose Labrador, FPL. The building has been sealed off while police investigate.
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