Following Hurricane Irma, eight nursing Florida nursing home residents died after the storm knocked out the air conditioning at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.
The Broward Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Wednesday that Bobby Owens, 84; Manuel Mario Medieta, 96; Miguel Antonio Franco, 92; Estella Hendricks, 71; Gail Nova, 71; Carolyn Eatherly, 78; Betty Hibbard, 84; and Albertina Vega, 99, had died, the Sun Sentinel reported.
Police said the residents’ causes of death were not yet known, the Sentinel reported. Sen. Bill Nelson asked the secretary of Health and Human Services to investigate what happened.
“I am going to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said, the Sentinel reported. “Every facility that is charged with caring for patients must take every action and precaution to keep their patients safe — especially patients that are in poor health.”
Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez also promised a criminal investigation at a Wednesday morning press conference.
City spokeswoman Raelin Story said 115 seniors were evacuated from the nursing home, and some were in respiratory distress, the Sentinel reported.
The nursing home released a statement saying it had a “prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility’s air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane,” CNN reported.
High temperatures at the nursing home’s location were in the 90s Tuesday and Wednesday. Fans and spot coolers were being used at the Center on Tuesday, CNN reported.
The home has had safety violations in the past but corrected them, CNN reported.
The Sentinel also reported that Jack Michel, the Center’s manager, was once accused of federal and state health care fraud charges.