Nursing home appeal rejected in Irma case

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Photo Courtesy: John McCall/Sun-Sentinel/TNS

NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

A South Florida appeals court has turned down arguments that the state improperly revoked the license of a Broward County nursing home where residents died after Hurricane Irma in 2017.

A panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal last week rejected arguments by The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. The one-page order did not explain the court’s reasons.

Attorneys for the nursing home asked the court to find that an administrative law judge made a series of errors in recommending that the facility lose its license.

Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility’s air conditioning, with authorities attributing as many as 12 resident deaths to sweltering conditions in the building.

But attorneys for the Agency for Health Care Administration contended in a brief that the
nursing home’s “abject failure to meet its obligations as a licensed facility and the tragic consequences justify AHCA’ s decision to revoke its license.”

‘Suffered greatly’

Hurricane Irma made landfall Sept. 10, 2017 in Monroe and Collier counties and caused damage through much of the state. The nursing home lost power to its air-conditioning system, which was out until Sept. 13, when residents were evacuated.

The deaths drew national attention and led the state to move quickly to shut down the facility and, ultimately, revoke its license. Administrative Law Judge Mary Li Creasy in 2018 issued a recommended order supporting the revocation.

While authorities have attributed as many as 12 deaths to conditions at the facility, Creasy wrote that “clear and convincing evidence” was presented during the case that nine of the 12 residents “suffered greatly from the exposure to unsafe heat in the facility.”

Following Creasy’s recommendation, the Agency for Health Care Administration in January 2019 issued a final order to revoke the license.

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