Nursing Home Disaster in Focus Post-Irma

When Hurricane Irma barreled into Florida  last month, it left tremendous devastation in its wake. But as our team at Aronberg & Aronberg know, some of the destruction that was most tragic was avoidable. At least twelve nursing home patients died after being subjected to an overheated nursing home in Hollywood, Florida, which lost air conditioning during the hurricane. Lets see what happened in the one of the worst Nursing Home Disasters during Post Hurricane Irma.

What happened?

Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida early September, knocking out electrical power for millions. During normal times, some of the most vulnerable people in the State of Florida are nursing home patients—during natural emergencies, that vulnerability is heightened. On September 13th, it was reported that eight nursing home patients died three days after Hurricane Irma’s winds and rain disabled the Hollywood, Florida, nursing home’s air conditioning system.

Some of the patients who passed away had body temperatures as high as 109.9 degrees Fahrenheit. As our nursing home neglect attorneys know, over the days and weeks following the loss of power, other elderly patients succumbed to the illnesses caused by overheating. According to NBC News, the ages of those who have passed away due to overheating in the nursing home range from 57 years of age all the way up to 99 years of age.

Could this have been avoided?

Unfortunately, as our personal injury team at Aronberg & Aronberg understand, this tragedy likely could have been avoided. A bill proposed in the Florida legislature would have required many nursing homes to have generators in order to protect frail, elderly people from the “ravages of heat and hydration,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. While the bill easily passed through the State House, it faltered in the State Senate. Hopefully, in the aftermath of the avoidable deaths in Hollywood, Florida, this bill may be revived.

Because of the tragedy, the victims’ families may well have strong nursing home neglect cases against the operator(s) of the nursing home. Families place their loved ones into these types of facilities so that they will receive expert care, not so that they will be left to die in sweltering heat. As our nursing home neglect attorneys at Aronberg & Aronberg know, this is more than a civil issue—authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the situation.

Looking to avoid this type of tragedy in the future, after the hurricane, Gov. Rick Scott gave nursing homes and related assisted living-type facilities two months during which to comply with “new rules that require them to have generators capable of providing backup power for four days.”

If you have any questions about this horrific story, or about any other personal injury-related matter, or if you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, please contact our personal injury lawyers at Aronberg & Aronberg. To schedule a free consultation, please give us a call at 561-266-9191 or e-mail us at With offices in Delray Beach, Boca Raton and Wellington, we are ready and able to assist you.

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