State expert: Chillers made it hotter in Florida facility with 14 Irma-related deaths

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A hodgepodge system of temporary chillers meant to cool a Florida nursing home whose air conditioning was knocked out by Hurricane Irma actually made the building hotter, a state expert has testified.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills usually required 125 tons of cooling capacity, but nine portable “chillers” installed after a power outage only had about 15 tons.

Testimony released late Thursday and reported by the Miami Herald said the coolers made things “worse” because they weren't properly ventilated. They likely pushed additional heat toward the building's second floor.

“Essentially, the capacity of the spot coolers was insufficient to cool the space in the patient areas,” said William Scott Crawford, an engineer hired by the state.

The testimony came during ongoing litigation between the state health care agency and the nursing home.

Crawford testified that second-floor temperatures would likely have gone above 95 degrees. At least 10 of 14 Hollywood Hills residents who died after Irma lived on the second floor.