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Bipartisan E&C Leaders Probe Florida Nursing Home Following Resident Deaths After Hurricane Irma

Oct 20, 2017
Press Release

Bipartisan Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today sent a letter to Dr. Jack Michel, Owner of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, LLC, the Florida nursing home that lost 14 residents in the wake of Hurricane Irma, after the facility’s air conditioning failed. The letter requests a detailed briefing and documents from the owner of the facility.

Signing the letter were: Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL).

“According to media reports, the air conditioning unit at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills stopped working on Sunday, September 10, 2017, due to damage caused by Hurricane Irma. In the immediate days that followed, despite attempts by your staff to use portable air coolers and fans to lower the temperature in the nursing home, the temperature increased to unsafe levels,” write Walden, Pallone, Burgess, Green, DeGette, Bilirakis, and Castor. “Visitors to the facility on Tuesday, September 11, 2017, report they were alarmed by the extreme heat in the building. Several residents suffered from respiratory or cardiac distress on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, and your staff called 911. The nursing home was evacuated shortly thereafter due to the heat in the building.  Fourteen residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills have since died.”

Additionally, the bipartisan committee leaders point out numerous citations for the facility, including at least two that claim the facility violated federal requirements for generators and several citations posing quality concerns.

The leaders also wrote, “AHCA records show that you own other health care facilities in Florida that also have a history of regulatory violations. For example, you are listed as the owner of the Floridian Gardens Assisted Living Facility, which was cited for thirty violations in December 2016, including failure to prevent or report sexual abuse of a resident, having an insufficient number of staff, and failure to correct violations identified in previous inspections. AHCA took steps in December 2016 to deny the facility’s license renewal, and following the tragedy at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, the Agency took additional steps to deny the license.”

Next week, #SubOversight will hold a hearing examining the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) public health response and preparedness efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. #SubOversight will hear from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about this incident and whether the facility was in compliance with federal regulations.

Click HERE to read a copy of the letter.