After Post-Hurricane Power Outage Deaths, Questions of Negligence Linger
As Hurricane Irma’s powerful winds swept across Florida earlier this month, millions lost power. For many people, the outages, though inconvenient and uncomfortable, meant little damage or danger. But at a nursing home in Hollywood Hills in South Florida, the power outages meant death.
Post-Irma Tragedy at Hollywood Hills Nursing Home
The electricity went out at the Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood Hills on September 10th. A felled tree, which took out a transformer near the home, was the main culprit. The Rehabilitation Center says they reported the outage to their electricity company. They also contacted Governor Rick Scott’s office in Tallahassee about the issue.
During the days-long outage, the Rehabilitation Center claims they took various efforts to ensure their residents safety and comfort. Their efforts included borrowing portable air coolers from a nearby hospital, having a physician examine their residents for heat-related issues, and using ice and fans to help keep the residents cool and comfortable. Still, by September 13th, elderly patients at the home began to die, likely from heat-related illness. In total, nine residents at the Rehabilitation Center passed away in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Was it Negligence?
This is an undeniable tragedy, and leaves the victim’s loved ones with dozens of questions. Did the Rehabilitation Center do enough to prevent this? Was negligence the cause of the deaths? Can the home face criminal charges?
For the nursing home, blame hinges on whether the home was negligent, or if they made honest mistakes while trying their best to help their residents. If the nursing home was negligent in their care of their residents, it would mean that they were “consciously doing an act or following a course of conduct that the defendant must have known, or reasonably should have known, was likely to cause death or great bodily injury.” Since the home did take steps to protect the residents, it’s possible that they will not be considered negligent.
However, others point to a nearby hospital, which had air condition, as a sign that the nursing home was negligent. By keeping the residents in the sweltering home, even with temporary relief like fans or ice, some argue that the home was being negligent.
The case is under investigation. It’s likely that more questions, concerns, and accusations will arise. Whether it was an issue of negligence or not, hopefully the emerging details of this tragedy will give the nursing homes across Florida the knowledge to make sure an incident like this never happens again.
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