The state of Louisiana has revoked licenses and terminated state Medicaid provider agreements for seven Louisiana nursing homes operated by a Baton Rouge real estate developer following the deaths of seven residents who were temporarily evacuated to a warehouse with hundreds of others ahead of Hurricane Ida. 

The harsh punishment was handed down by the Louisiana Department of Health on Tuesday and includes: River Palms Nursing and Rehab (Orleans Parish), South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab (Lafourche Parish), Maison Orleans Healthcare Center (Orleans Parish), Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home (Jefferson Parish), West Jefferson Health Care Center (Jefferson Parish), Maison De Ville Nursing Home (Terrebonne Parish) and Maison Deville Nursing Home of Harvey (Jefferson Parish). 

A weekend order had already forbidden the facilities to repatriate residents, even if post-storm conditions otherwise allowed.

The facilities are all owned by developer Bob Dean Jr. Dean also owns the warehouse where the residents were placed. Calls for comment by McKnight’s Long-Term Care News to Dean were not returned by production deadline. 

“All of these nursing facilities clearly failed to execute their emergency preparedness plans to provide essential care and services to their residents,” LDH Secretary Courtney N. Phillips, Ph.D., said in a statement Tuesday. 

The agency’s latest decision comes as outrage over the evacuation’s failed execution and resident deaths mounted over the weekend.

The agency explained that following two, in-person, pre-storm site inspections of the warehouse showed it appeared to have the minimum necessary facility components to provide a safe shelter for a short period of time. Officials added that there were plans for staffing, food service and laundry, potable water, portable toilets and a working generator appropriately sized for the facility. 

However, conditions at the facility and care for residents deteriorated following the storm, according to state health officials. The agency also alleged that Dean failed to communicate the dire situation to the state and ask for help. When another site visit was conducted on Aug. 31, the operator expelled the investigators from the property and prevented the completion of the visit. 

More than 800 residents were later removed from the warehouse and taken to other emergency shelters, nursing homes and hospitals.

The state’s lieutenant governor had threatened action against the operator over the weekend, calling the situation “unthinkable” and “embarrassing.” 

“When issues arose post-storm, we now know the level of care for these residents plummeted; an individual representing himself as the nursing home owner failed to communicate the situation; and then upon hearing reports from others that conditions at the facility had deteriorated our LDH surveyor was expelled from the property and LDH employees were subject to intimidation,” Phillips added. “Ultimately, lives were lost — these were grandparents, neighbors and friends, and we know families are hurting. We as a department are taking formal regulatory action.”

The department also announced it has made referrals on the matter to the Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Inspector General, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Louisiana State Police, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office and Baton Rouge Police Department.