State News for October 2017

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Messages were left outside of The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, where nine people died after the facility lost air conditioning in the wake of Irma.
Messages were left outside of The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, where nine people died after the facility lost air conditioning in the wake of Irma.

FLORIDA, TEXAS

Hurricanes Irma, Harvey lead to SNF deaths, harm

At least nine residents of a Florida nursing home died after their facility lost air conditioning following Hurricane Irma, authorities said in mid-September. 

It was perhaps the most notorious long-term care news out of a vicious two-week span for monstrous hurricanes.

Another 115 residents were evacuated from The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, FL, on Sept. 13 following an initial call related to a resident in cardiac arrest.

Jorge Carballo, the center's administrator, told  local media a power outage affected the building's air conditioning system.

“Facility administration has been in communication with Florida Power & Light and the governor's office since the beginning of Hurricane Irma, and is cooperating fully with relevant authorities to investigate the circumstances that led to this unfortunate and tragic outcome,” Carballo wrote.

Around 150 out of nearly 700 facilities in Florida did not have full power services restored as of Sept. 13, according to the Florida Health Care Association.

A criminal investigation was launched, with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) saying he would “aggressively demand answers.”

Executives responded that they had called a private phone line for Scott three times requesting assistance, according to The Washington Post.

Natasha Anderson, chief executive of Larkin Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services, told the Post she called a phone number distributed by Scott's office ahead of the storm as “emergency backup.” She said she called three times after the facility's air conditioning system lost power.

“Repeatedly, I was told that our case was being escalated to the highest level,” Anderson said. 

No help came, she added. 

At press time, the nursing home was fighting its exclusion from the Medicaid program 

a result of deaths. Legal action also had been taken by residents' family members.

In Texas, a lawsuit was filed after flooding at Arthur Lake Place in Port Arthur, TX. Following Hurricane Harvey, video clips showed flooded hallways and residents being evacuated.

 Executives at Senior Care Centers fought back, noting while they had planned “safe and organized evacuation,” residents were “forcibly evacuated by unknown volunteers.” (For more, see page 4).

Then in mid-September, a group of residents' families sought, and were granted, a temporary restraining order against the facility, alleging medical malpractice. A hearing on the allegations was scheduled for Sept. 22.

The hurricane news was also not without some high points. Genesis Healthcare noted that it had eight centers damaged by Harvey and evacuated 65 residents from Rockport and 103 residents from Beaumont. However, residents were welcomed to eight sister Genesis facilities in Texas, and Genesis admitted an additional 35 patients from other skilled nursing providers.

After Irma, Atria Senior Living evacuated 633 residents to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort from communities in Florida, along with more than 200 family members. They notably shared the hotel with actress Kristen Bell, who sang with residents. 

WEST

LGBT bill may stall

California — A lawmaker's proposed LGBT Senior Bill of Rights has hit some road bumps.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D), would require staff to use a resident's preferred pronoun and name and prevent staff from denying admission to a skilled nursing facility, or discharging a resident based on sexual orientation. 

It also offers protection for transgender residents, such as forbidding asking for identity documents to use a restroom. 

The bill passed the Senate in September, but it was unclear as of press time whether the Assembly would vote on it by the end of the month. While conservative outlets such as the National Review have warned the bill would  “impose left-wing dogma by force of law if it gets much further,” the bigger issue may be the price tag. Facilities estimate the bill would cost around $2 million the first year, largely related to staff training, although a legislative analysis said costs would be passed on to the state as a SNF rate add-on.

MIDWEST

WW II reunion in Sugarcreek

OHIO — A French man traveled to an Ohio nursing home in September to thank a resident he credits with saving his family during World War II.

Thierry Ferey, 53, of Normandy, traveled to  Walnut Hills Nursing Home in Sugarcreek, OH, to thank Lt. James Leonard Mason, 96. Mason is a surviving member of the 501 Company C, 101st Airborne, Screaming Eagles, which were involved with the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944. Ferey's father always told his son that those men helped allow them to have a new life, WKYC reported. 

Ferey sent a note to Mason expressing his gratitude three years ago, but did not make the trip from France to Ohio to meet Mason and his family in person until early last month. Ferey said he also planned to travel to Hawaii to meet another veteran involved with helping his family.