6 dead at Florida nursing home without AC after Irma, others evacuated



Florida's healthcare agency ordered a Miami-area nursing home suspended from the state Medicaid program on Thursday after eight elderly patients there were exposed to sweltering heat in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and died.

Ten million people are still without power in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas after Hurricane Irma.

Last week, the storm killed at least 37 people in Caribbean islands, including the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba, St Martin and St Barthelemy, Barbuda, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands.

Florida's post-Irma recovery picked up momentum Friday as power outages dropped and schools made plans to reopen. As of Wednesday, almost 60 percent of customers had electricity restored, according to Florida Power & Light.

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Three patients were found dead at the nursing home early Wednesday after police got a call about a person with a heart attack, and three more died at the hospital or on the way, police said. Five more patients from the nursing home later died at a nearby hospital, they said. "Our most important concern to ensure they were hydrated and as comfortable as possible", said Carballo in a statement.

The Miami-Herald reports that a criminal investigation has been launched, and officers are being sent to check on the 42 other nursing homes in the area. "The temperatures, particularly on the second floor, were extremely hot".

Three Broward County lawmakers have asked Gov. Rick Scott to initiate an independent state investigation into the deaths Wednesday of eight residents of a Hollywood nursing home.

Scott said in a statement earlier this week that he was "heartbroken" to learn of the deaths and planned to "aggressively demand answers". But most of the surviving patients "have been treated for respiratory distress, dehydration and heat-related issues", Regional Memorial Hospital spokesman Randy Katz told reporters.

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John Tupps, Scott's communications director, alleged that, "Every call made to the governor from facility management was referred to the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health and quickly returned". Florida Power & Light said it had provided electricity to some parts of the Hollywood nursing home but that the facility was not on a county top-tier list for emergency power restoration. He added that "I don't know what he's going to do". "This situation is unfathomable".

"It is clear that this facility can not be responsible for Florida's vulnerable patients, and therefore the State will stop them from providing care", Scott said in a news release.

Total insured losses from the storm are expected to run about $US25 billion, including $US18 billion in the United States and $US7 billion in the Caribbean, catastrophe modeler Karen Clark & Company estimated on Wednesday.

Trump addressed what he called the "very special problem" in the Florida Keys, where 90 percent of homes had at least some damage, according to FEMA. Most residents had left by then and police have barred re-entry to most of the Keys to allow more time to restore electricity and medical service and bring water, food and fuel.

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Of the almost 40 people killed by Irma in the Caribbean, victims include 10 dead on the French island of St Barts and on the French part of St Martin - which is shared with the Netherlands. The university said Irma sustained those high wind speeds for 37 hours, breaking the world record for any cyclone around the globe to have maintained such intensity for so long. "My house, my business, both my vehicles, everything is gone", said Benson, who was stopping in San Juan before continuing to Boston to seek refuge with his wife's brother.

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