State investigations underway into deaths at Hollywood nursing home

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The nursing home, located roughly 20 miles north of Miami, has been without power since Hurricane Irma struck earlier in the week.

"It's a sad state of affairs", the police chief said.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has a health inspection rating of "much below average" by the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration, which evaluates all long-term care facilities in the state for the US government.

Officials said responders "found several patients in varying degrees of medical distress". He also said investigators will look into how many windows were open.

Sanchez said that officials believe the situation at the nursing home "may be related to the loss of power" caused by Irma, but said they were not ruling anything out. "Generally, we are treating dehydration, heat exhaustion and severe respiratory conditions, and we do have some critical patients". "Every facility that is charged with caring for patients must take every action and precaution to keep their patients safe".

The people who died Wednesday in South Florida were part of a death toll that, while relatively low compared to other massive storms, has slowly climbed in recent days. Authorities have warned that these devices can be deadly, noting they can easily sicken or kill people inside homes. Jon reports: "As of Tuesday, [the facility] was reporting that everything was OK, that they were using portable air conditioners and fans".

Detailing the problems identified this week by the Agency for Health Care Administration, member station WLRN reports, "In its complaint, the healthcare agency said that on September 10 the rehab center "became aware that its air conditioning equipment had ceased to operate effectively".

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Long before this past week, however, the facility had a history of poor inspections.

In both cases nursing home administrators said they would rectify the problems.

Larkin Community Hospital, which is adjacent to the retirement home, was also being evacuated.

"This facility was not listed as a top critical" by Broward County, Gould said.

Dr Randy Katz, the emergency room medical director at a hospital nearby said they had evacuated 115 patients and at least a dozen are being treated. More than 300,000 customers in the county, or a third of the total, are still without power as of midday Wednesday.

"The loss of these individuals is a profound tragedy", said a statement by the Florida Health Care Association, which represents 81% of Florida's nursing centers.

The overall death toll from Irma climbed to 81 on Wednesday, with several hard-hit Caribbean islands accounting for more than half the fatalities, and officials continued to assess damage inflicted by the second major hurricane to strike the USA mainland this year. The move came after workers repaired three water main breaks.

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