Hurricane Irma: Nursing homes struggle without air conditioning
After 6 people died at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida, police have opened a criminal investigation. Josh King has the story (@abridghetoland). Buzz60
Several senior communities with assisted living facilities still don't have power, and keeping the elderly from suffering dehydration is challenging.
Vi at Bentley Village in North Naples and Terracina Grand in East Naples are among two senior residential communities that are without power, and residents of Vi are still evacuated out of town, according to Vi spokeswoman Pam Fultz.
At Terracina Grand, at 6825 Davis Blvd., the community was not in an evacuation zone and sheltered in place with generator power, but it cannot cover the air conditioning system, said Kim Te Brugge, executive director.
There are about 175 residents with about 85 percent of them in the assisted living side, and the 17-bed memory care unit is full. The remaining 15 percent are in independent living apartments.
Collier County sent over a CAT bus with air conditioning, and staff are rotating the seniors in the bus so they can get some time in air conditioning, she said. In the building, staff have set up cooling stations with the goal of keeping the seniors hydrated as much as possible.
“We should be a priority one,” she said, referring to critical infrastructure such as hospitals. “I’m not sure what happened. The county says they are working with FPL, and we just can’t get any update on when we can expect our power.”
The plight of nursing homes and assisted living facilities and power restoration has families on heightened alert after eight residents in a 152-bed Broward County nursing home died when the air conditioning system went out. The state issued an emergency moratorium against any new admissions at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after it was evacuated Wednesday.
Gov. Rick Scott said what happened at the nursing home is unfathomable.
“I am going to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place,” Scott said in a statement. “Although the details of these reported deaths are still under investigation, this situation is unfathomable. Every facility that is charged with caring for patients must take every action and precaution to keep their patients safe — especially patients that are in poor health.”
In Lee County, seniors at the assisted living at Springwood Court at 12780 Kenwood Lane, were evacuated to Calusa Harbor in downtown Fort Myers and were returning Thursday after power was restored, according to a telephone hotline.
An FPL spokesman said in a statement that power has been restored to critical entities, but the statement does not address assisted living facilities.
“We work closely with county emergency management officials to review and make determinations regarding the top critical infrastructure facilities. We are still working to restore all critical infrastructure following Hurricane Irma," FPL spokesman Peter Robbins, said in a statement. “As of last night, we just completed restoring all of our top critical infrastructure hospitals system-wide.”
The residents at Terracina Grande in East Naples are doing well, and the 120 staff who have been working during the storm and afterward are keeping up with activities to keep them busy and well fed, said Te Brugge, executive director.
“We’re holding our own,” she said. “It’s been remarkable.”
Bonnie McDaniel, whose parents live in Terracina Grand, said the staff are keeping distant family informed and she’s pleased.
“The facility is doing everything they can,” McDaniel, who lives in Ohio, said. She is a registered nurse and knows it’s harder for the elderly to cool down compared with younger people, McDaniel said.
“I feel like they have a great plan to keep for taking care of them,” she said.
Vi at Bentley Village, with 800 residents, remained at its evacuation sites at hotels in Orlando on Thursday and was assessing damage to the sprawling community in North Naples.
“Full electrical service has not yet been restored at Vi at Bentley Village and Collier County has not yet restored water and sewage service to the community,” according to a statement. “The process of entering and assessing every Vi at Bentley Village apartment has been initiated in order to determine possible damage or the need for remedial action.”