‘I Still Can’t Believe It’: Family Wants Hollywood Nursing Home Held Accountable For Deaths

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HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – A family is coming to grips with the tragedy of 93-year-old Miguel Franco, dying in sweltering heat inside The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

He’s one of 11 people who died – the death toll increased Friday. It happened after the power went out during Hurricane Irma.

Residents remained inside for three days with no air conditioning.

“I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it that my dad is gone,” said Margarita Navarro, Franco’s daughter.

Franco wasn’t alone in his room. His wife Cecelia suffered next to him. She’s lived with Alzheimer’s Disease for years but survived. Now she faces a whole list of new health problems.

The family can’t believe that patients weren’t moved out before people began dying. For them, it’s more infuriating knowing the nursing home is literally next door to a hospital.

“Then to realize that not one, not two, but three days had to go by before they even called 911 or let alone walked across the street where there is a hospital,” said granddaughter Erika Navarro.

Related: Florida To ‘Aggressively” Enforce Generators At Nursing Homes After Irma Deaths

The family first got concerned when no one answered the phone Monday and Tuesday after the storm.  On Wednesday Miguel’s daughter drove to the facility. On the way, she heard of the trouble on the radio. Hours later she got the devastating news.

“They took us to a room with the police and they told us that my dad didn’t make it.  He was one of the ones that had died,” said Margarita Navarro.

What haunts the family is thinking about what it must have been like for their loved ones during those three days.

“To think that he went through any kind of distress. I think about: ‘Did he suffocate?  Did he have a heart attack?  Did he suffer? Was he like going through agony?’” Erika Navarro said.

The family is suing the nursing home, hoping their suit will bring about change, so no other family will suffer they pain they feel. They also want someone held accountable.

“When people start to get sick and sicker and they start to deteriorate you don’t sit idly by and wait for somebody to die before you pick up a phone and call 911,” said attorney Albert Levin.

The medical examiner told CBS4 the autopsies of 10 nursing home patients are complete.  The results have not been released yet.

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