Hollywood Hills

11th Victim Dies After Hollywood Nursing Home Tragedy

An eleventh resident of a Hollywood nursing home that had to be evacuated after a power outage has died, the medical examiner's office confirmed Friday.

Alice Thomas, 94, is the latest patient of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills to die after a power outage caused by Hurricane Irma.

The cause of death has yet to be determined. Two other patients died earlier this week. "The Hollywood Police Department is treating all deaths from this facility as part of the criminal investigation," the city said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Earlier Friday, Secretary of Agency for Health Care Administration Justin Senior said the state will "aggressively" enforce new rules that require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have generators. Senior explained to nursing home officials about an emergency rule that will require the facilities to have backup power that can last up to four days.

The latest death comes as officials continue their investigation into what took place inside the facility. The nursing home reported it lost power and air conditioning when the storm struck on Sept. 10, calling an emergency hotline the next day.

After disturbing details of the incident came to light, the Hollywood Hills nursing home is facing legal action.

The Colson Hicks Eidson law firm on Friday filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit on behalf of Margarita Navarro, the daugther of Miguel Antonio Franco, 93, who died after of the power outage, and Cecilia Franco, 90, who was hospitalized.

Elderly residents at the nursing home suffered under "extreme heat and deplorable conditions" and nearly a dozen died as a result of the nursing home's "negligence and failure to prepare adequately for Hurricane Irma," the lawsuit alleges.

“Some tragedies are unavoidable, but this tragedy was entirely avoidable,” lawyer Curtis Miner said in a statement. “With this lawsuit, we hope both to cast a light on the egregious treatment suffered by elderly and vulnerable members of our community at the Rehab Center and to prod regulatory changes to prevent this from recurring in the future.”

A criminal investigation continues while the nursing home — which has had its license suspended — has filed a lawsuit to be allowed to reopen, saying it used items like coolers, fans, ice and other methods to keep patients comfortable.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement set up a new hotline for anyone with information about the deaths or the nursing home between the dates of Sept. 9 to Sept. 12. The number is 866-452-3461.

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