As we speak, there are still large portions of Florida that do not have power thanks to Hurricane Irma. In one nursing home, the hurricane bonded with criminal negligence in order to kill eight.
On Wednesday, Broward County, Florida Mayor Barbara Sharief initially confirmed that five had died in a Hollywood, Florida, nursing home due to dehydration and the home’s lack of electricity. This death was later bumped up to eight.
Here’s what we know about this disaster so far.
The Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood lost power due to Hurricane Irma. Because of this, and because of the intense Florida heat, the temperature inside of the facility became deadly.
The center did have a generator, but authorities have yet to determine if the generator was ever used or if it is even functioning.
According to CBS Evening News, a criminal investigation is underway. Police investigators are likely pursuing leads about whether or not the Rehabilitation Center is responsible for criminal negligence.
A medical examiner’s report shows that all of the deceased were between the ages of 71 and 99. “Heat-related” deaths are also suspected to be the main cause of the eight fatalities.
In the wake of this event, other retirement and rehabilitation homes in Florida have been checked by local police officers to make sure that the elderly patients are receiving adequate care.
Not all Floridians are willing to cast this tragedy off as just a mere result of a terrible storm. Democrat Senator Bill Nelson has called this string of deaths “an emerging scandal of gargantuan proportions.”
Senator Nelson further added that it was “inexcusable” for people above the age of seventy to be locked in rooms without air conditioning for days.
For his part, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R), has promised to “aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place.”
Sadly, gross misconduct and criminal negligence are an all too common occurrence at nursing facilities in this country. There are more than two million cases of elderly abuse reported every year. At nursing homes, one of out every ten elderly patients will experience some form of abuse.
Another report found that one out of every three nursing homes oversee systematic elderly patient abuse. Reported cases include not only physical abuse or public humiliation, but also sexual abuse.
Eight dead in hot nursing home. Do these homes need greater oversight?
In Oklahoma, one family was awarded $1.2 million dollars in a civil suit after cameras caught two nursing home employees physically abusing their 96-year-old relative.
One California woman told the national media that her 88-year-old mother was raped at a nursing facility by staff members. Such disgusting displays of inhumanity are often not reported to the police. Even worse, our elderly citizens are often seen as burdens by their families and the state and therefore are left vulnerable to predators.
The case of the Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood, Florida should cause all to pause and think about the way American society treats the elderly. A healthier nation would recognize that family members belong with their families, not in the arms of strangers.