When people in Ohio find themselves unable to care for their elderly loved ones, they may turn to a nursing home or other care facility for assistance. The costs associated with elder care can be substantial, but paying high fees does not always protect elder residents from neglect and abuse. One Florida case that emerged amid the devastation of Hurricane Irma drew attention to the mistreatment of older people held in nursing homes. In 2017, 12 patients at one home died in the heat after the hurricane disabled the air conditioning at the home. Now, four people are facing charges of aggravated manslaughter in the case.
Following a two-year investigation, one nursing home administrator and three nurses were charged by local police. Police say that they collected over 1,000 pieces of evidence at the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills in addition to interviewing 500 people and seizing 55 computers containing facility documents and information. The nursing home patients began dying three days after the hurricane hit the facility. There were approximately 150 people housed there during the storm. Despite the sweltering heat and rising temperatures, workers at the facility failed to evacuate any residents. They were forced to remain despite the presence of a fully operational hospital directly across the street.
Days after the storm, the nursing home’s license was suspended. It was later closed. Lawyers for the charged staff members say that they did not neglect the residents; they reportedly brought in fans and called for help. However, the staff members did not call 911 or visit the neighboring hospital with working electricity.
Nursing home neglect and mistreatment can cause serious injuries and take lives even far outside the context of a severe storm. People whose loved ones have been hurt due to nursing home abuse may consult with a lawyer about their opportunities to seek justice.