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When Irma Arrived, Most Florida Health Care Facilities Were Ready

One of many medical vans heads to a Rehabilitation Center during Hollywood Hills in south Florida to leave patients final week after a energy outage.

Jon Hamilton/NPR


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Jon Hamilton/NPR

One of many medical vans heads to a Rehabilitation Center during Hollywood Hills in south Florida to leave patients final week after a energy outage.

Jon Hamilton/NPR

Another hurricane, another health caring fear story.

At slightest that’s how it looked when 8 patients died during a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida. The trickery mislaid a atmosphere conditioning several days after Hurricane Irma struck.

That eventuality conjured memories of a scores of aged who died in Louisiana hospitals and nursing homes following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

But it would be dubious to charge a Florida deaths essentially to Irma. And it would be a mistake to assume that many other health caring comforts in southern Florida were confused for a hurricane.

A Week After Irma, Florida Families Still Living In The Dark

Here’s what we saw as a contributor who lonesome a Florida nursing home deaths, yet also visited Miami-area hospitals, clinics, shelters for people with medical problems, and even a area’s largest dialysis center.

First, a nursing home, called a Rehabilitation Center during Hollywood Hills.

Yes, it gifted a prejudiced detriment of energy after Irma. But a genuine problem seemed to be that a staff didn’t act fast adequate after a atmosphere conditioning unsuccessful and patients became overheated and dehydrated, according to police, puncture responders, and family members of patients.

By a time puncture responders got there, a facility’s second building was “extremely hot,” some patients were already dead, and others were nearby death, Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez told reporters.

Also, assistance was only a few stairs away. Memorial Regional Hospital, that is right opposite a street, had energy and a entirely functioning puncture room when a deaths occurred.

One Week After Irma, Floridians Pick Up The Pieces

When a sanatorium finally schooled what was happening, dozens of workers rushed over to help, says Randy Katz, an Emergency Medicine dilettante during Memorial.

It’s value observant that a nursing home deaths are being investigated as a intensity killing case, not a unhappy effect of Hurricane Irma.

Meanwhile, other health caring comforts in Florida did flattering good after a hurricane. Just 10 of a state’s some-more than 300 hospitals were sealed by a storm.

But 150 of a state’s 700 nursing homes still lacked full energy 3 days after Irma struck, according to a Florida Health Care Association, that represents nursing homes. Most had backup generators, though, a organisation says.

Meanwhile, a Miami area’s largest dialysis core was means to free only hours after a winds began to die.

“We knew we had generator backup and we knew it was a protected plcae on a fifth floor,” says Sandra Sol, a amicable workman during a DaVita Miami Campus dialysis core nearby downtown Miami.

So DaVita diverted hundreds of dialysis patients from other centers to this one. The preference was vicious given dialysis patients customarily need diagnosis several times a week to forestall toxins and liquid from building adult in their bodies.

When we visited a dialysis core dual days after Irma swept through, a gait was frenetic. All 36 dialysis chairs were filled.

One contained Miguel Lobera, 51, a cheerful, enterprising male who has been on dialysis for 4 years. “A day after a charge we called my tech and he says come tomorrow during a unchanging time,” Lobera tells me.

Like a lot of dialysis patients, Lobera has a operation of illnesses in further to kidney disease. “I’m an thesaurus of health problems,” he says. “Diabetes given we was a small kid, stroke, neuropathy, a heart conflict or two.”

“These people are a best,” Lobera says. “They take caring of my health. we have truly been sanctified when it comes to medicine.”

Irma did make it tough for some patients to get to a dialysis center, Sol says. “We had a few patients that came brief of breath. But as shortly as we get them on that appurtenance and start pulling that liquid out, they start feeling a lot better.”

DaVita had designed ahead. When a Miami Campus core satisfied that whirly continue would start nearing in a area Saturday, it asked patients scheduled for visits that day to come on Friday instead, Sol says. And staff had already been stockpiling reserve in expectation of outrageous direct after a storm.

The formulation paid off. “So distant all has left really smoothly,” she says.

Thousands of patients with other medical problems were taken to some-more than 90 “special needs” shelters around a state, according to a Florida Division of Emergency Management.

I visited one of these shelters, on a initial building of an bureau building during Florida International University. It featured some-more than 100 cots set adult as temporary sanatorium beds, 24-hour nursing, and doctors on call.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” says Barbara Strong, a studious there. Strong is thin and has change problems, yet she is discerning to indicate out she is “off change physically, not mentally.”

“It’s really comfortable, we get 3 dishes a day, and a nurses are excellent,” Strong says.

The special needs core during FIU was caring for “diabetics, amputees, heart patients, and people that are on oxygen,” Strong says.

Across campus during a ubiquitous shelter, that housed several hundred residents during a peak, people with medical needs give churned reviews.

“I went to a sanatorium twice already,” says Sabrina Dupont, who is 35 weeks profound and lives in Key West. “They got me right in and out,” she says.

But Jessica Dawn, a transgender lady with diabetes from Key West, pronounced a preserve didn’t yield sustaining food or a place to cool her medications. “I haven’t been on my testosterone blockers for 5 days now,” she says.

A debate of Miami-area health caring comforts found some closed, yet many others open.

Several village health centers were sealed and seemed not to have power. And a offices of several home health caring companies were sealed during unchanging business hours.

But each sanatorium seemed to have energy and a operative puncture room.