Medicine

911 calls released from Florida nursing home where 14 patients died

911 calls released from Florida nursing home where 14 patients died

At first there was no hint of distress in the 911 calls, no sense of panic.

Anitere Flores, of South Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, said discussions between health care professionals and policymakers are needed to prevent more tragedies like the one at the Hollywood Hills Nursing Home, where 14 patients died after the center's cooling system failed during Hurricane Irma.

An employee at the Broward County Emergency Operations Center also called 911. "Oh my God, this is insane!" she said, adding: "I only come here every month!"

The ninth call reported problems at the adjoining mental hospital owned by the same company.

As recently as Friday, the city still was blocking the release of the records, arguing in a court brief that they were part of an active criminal investigation into the deaths.

But by the time the calls were made, the residents were suffering respiratory distress, and in some cases dying. The unidentified hospital employee tells the dispatcher that an 84-year-old patient is in cardiac arrest.

Nursing home administrator Jorge Carballo said in a statement shortly after the facility was evacuated in September that the home had suffered "a prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility's air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane". "I noticed she is not breathing", the employee says, adding that the patient's mouth and fingers are turning blue. "Tell me the address please somebody", she told co-workers while on the phone with 911 operators.

The Hollywood, Florida, Police Department released the tapes Monday.

But despite the growing list of sick, the nurses seem calm, each answering the same list of questions: Where is the patient?

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Irma struck South Florida on September 10, knocking out power to most of the region, including the nursing home. Another call came in on Tuesday.

The nursing home and rehabilitation center at 1200 N. 35th Ave.is now a homicide investigation crime scene after the state revoked its license on September 20.

"He had a fever, um, we started, you know, like, ordering tests for him and stuff but he's getting short of breathe now", another employee told emergency dispatchers. "They're saying that they're having issues with patients and there may be casualties", he said.

That same day, eight residents of the nursing home died. "We have been asking for these records since the incidents occurred".

Florida officials have suspended the nursing's home license in the wake of the deaths. In the past, nursing homes have resisted similar measures, citing cost, and several industry groups have filed legal challenges to the new rule.

Inside the overheated nursing home that Wednesday, the calls, over the space of just a few hours, became more frequent and urgent as the situation turned dire. I'm downstairs, but the patient is upstairs with the nurse.

At least one of the calls was made while paramedics were already in the building, tending to another resident.

"She's not breathing!" she said to the operator, who told her to locate a defibrillator.


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