6 dead in Florida nursing home left with no air conditioning after Hurricane Irma

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — At least six people have died at a nursing home in Florida that might be because of the loss of air conditioning after Hurricane Irma struck over the weekend, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said Wednesday morning.

The causes of death are still being investigated, Hollywood police chief Tomas Sanchez said.

“We are conducting a criminal investigation (and) not ruling anything out at this time,” Sanchez said.

A statement from the nursing home, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, confirmed that it had a “prolonged power failure to the transformer which powered the facility’s air conditioning system as a result of the hurricane.”

Three died at the nursing home and three others died after being taken to Memorial Regional Hospital, Sharief said.

Firefighters evacuated 115 people from the nursing home. Others were found in critical condition, some with trouble breathing, Hollywood spokeswoman Raelin Story said.

“There are a number of critical patients,” Story said.

Another 18 patients in an adjacent behavioral health facility are also being evacuated, Story said. As a precautionary measure, police are checking the other 42 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Hollywood, Sanchez said.

The hospital has set up a hotline, 954-265-3000, so families of nursing home residents can check to see if their loved ones have been taken there.

There are 683 nursing homes in Florida with more than 84,000 beds, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which licenses and regulates the facilities.

In addition, there are more than 3,100 assisted living facilities with over 99,000 beds.