FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — One of the people who performed autopsies on some the people who died at a nursing home after the power went out during Hurricane Irma gave jaw-dropping testimony.
This during a hearing in which the Hollywood nursing home is fighting to get its license back.
One of the patients was in distress. Her body temperature read 109.9 degrees. That’s more than ten degrees above normal. It was the temperature of a patient at the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center rushed to the hospital last September 13th, who ultimately died.
As a state hearing on whether the nursing home should keep its license entered its fourth day in Fort Lauderdale, associate medical examiner Dr. Wendolyn Sneed told a judge she learned of the extreme body temperature when she was performing autopsies on six patients sent to the morgue.
“It’s extreme hypothermia. In the range of heat stroke,” said Dr. Sneed.
Sneed told the judge ‘five’ of the patients she autopsied died of heat stroke and she ruled the manner of death as homicide because she said the nursing home staff failed to help those who couldn’t help themselves.
“They had a clear opportunity to remove these patients from the environment and it wasn’t done and because of that these patients died,” said Sneed.
The nursing home lost power during Hurricane Irma on September 10, 2017, and the air conditioning stopped. The Staff brought in portable air conditioning units but the temperature continued to climb. The nursing home was evacuated.
On September 13th and 12th, the deaths had been ruled homicides.
The criminal investigation continues and no one has been charged. The nursing home operators say staff did everything they could to protect the patients. They say calls for help to FPL and the governor were ignored.
There was a danger to moving frail patients.
“Are you familiar with literature that says there’s an increased risk of mortality among the elderly with evacuations,” Hollywood Hills Attorney Geoff Smith asked Sneed.
“No I’m not,” Dr. Sneed answered.
The hearing is scheduled to continue on Friday.