HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Five people are dead and 115 have been evacuated to a local hospital from a nursing home that had no air conditioning following Hurricane Irma, the police said Wednesday.
Two employees of the nursing home, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, said that it had power but that at some point the air conditioning stopped working. Three died at the facility and two more during the evacuation to a nearby hospital, city officials said.
“It’s a sad event,” Tomas Sanchez, the Hollywood police chief, said at a news conference. “As a precautionary measure, we’ve assigned police officers to go check all the other 42 assisted living facilities and nursing homes throughout the city to make sure they’re in sufficient care of the elderly.”
The police were conducting a criminal investigation into the deaths, Mr. Sanchez said.
Emergency responders decided to evacuate the remaining nursing home residents, and residents at an adjacent facility owned by the same company, after finding the facilities to be “extremely hot,” a city spokeswoman said. The residents were taken to Memorial Regional Hospital, which was calling in extra staff, and will transfer people as needed to other facilities in the area, said Kering Baldwin, a spokesman for the hospital.
The authorities did not provide names or ages for those who died.
The nursing home owner did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Paulburn Bogle, a housekeeping employee of the nursing home, said the facility was getting power from a rented generator, and that the air conditioning was working when he left Tuesday night. By the time he returned Wednesday morning, it was not working, he said. Nursing home staff had set up fans in the dining room, he said. Eventually, he started wheeling patients outside.
Roughly 160 nursing homes in Florida remained without commercial power on Wednesday morning, according to the state’s tracking system. Most of those nursing homes lacked a generator that could run air conditioning. High temperatures were becoming a major concern.
State officials emphasized that nursing homes were a priority for power restoration. However, some nursing home administrators reported that local power company representatives were telling them they were not.
Florida requires nursing homes to have procedures to ensure emergency power in a disaster as well as food, water, staffing and 72 hours of supplies. A new federal rule, which comes into effect in November, adds that whatever the alternative source of energy is, it must be capable of maintaining temperatures that protect residents’ health and safety.
Some nursing homes also reported staffing issues due to a lack of fuel for transportation. Others were reporting difficulty getting transportation companies to move their residents.