FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A hearing is underway in Fort Lauderdale to determine if the license for the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills should be permanently revoked.
Their license was suspended last September, post Hurricane Irma, when 12 patients died at the nursing home after the air conditioning failed.
“We went in and I remember the heat hitting my face,” said Judy Frum who was the first to testify at the hearing.
Frum is the nursing director at Memorial Regional Hospital, which is located next door to the nursing home.
She says after learning several patients were brought to the hospital with elevated temperatures she decided to go to the facility to offer assistance.
She testified it was chaotic inside and staff were trying to move patients to areas where they would be cooler.
Frum says she saw one worker wearing a set of scrubs that was ‘soaking wet’ from the extreme heat.
“We felt because of the temperature it would be best to evacuate that facility,” she said.
The nursing home’s air conditioning went out during the hurricane and the temperature inside the facility soared.
The state says the sweltering conditions caused medical complications for the dozen patients who died, but lawyers for the nursing home say the staff did everything humanly possible to save lives.
Over a dozen calls were made to Florida Power and Light, they say, that went unheeded.
And phone calls were made to the Governor about the emergency that was happening.
“I think the evidence will show that everyone in this situation acted reasonably in the context of responding to an unprecedented natural disaster,” said Geoffrey Smith, one of the attorneys for Hollywood Hills.
The hearing is expected to last four weeks.