Louisiana businessman revoked licenses for seven nursing homes due to deaths of elderly people crammed into warehouse for shelter from Hurricane Ida
As Hurricane Ida encroached on Louisiana before it arrived in Bayou state on August 29, seven one-man-run nursing homes were evacuated, with their residents all going to a warehouse in poor conditions. On Tuesday, September 7, the state announced it was revoking nursing home licenses after seven people died in the makeshift shelter.
So far, the tally is at least a dozen people who were cared for in a nursing home or residing in a retirement home during the devastating storm have died, although not all of the deaths have been classified as related to the storm.
A statement on the Louisiana Department of Health website states that “the Louisiana Department of Health alerted seven nursing homes that were evacuated to a Tangipahoa facility prior to Hurricane Ida that their licenses are revoked and that their agreements with Medicaid providers were terminated. ”
All of the nursing homes involved in the botched evacuation belong to Bob Dean, a New Orleans businessman who also owned the warehouse used as a shelter.
Although the warehouse is supposed to hold around 300 people, more than 800 nursing home residents were crammed inside on August 29 before the storm. When state inspectors attempted to inspect the facility in the days after Ida, they were turned away by Dean.
Facilities, all located in South Louisiana, include River Palms Nursing and Rehab, South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab, Maison Orleans Healthcare Center, Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home, West Jefferson Health Care Center, Maison DeVille Nursing Home, and Maison DeVille Nursing Home of Harvey.
“All of these nursing facilities have clearly failed to execute their emergency preparedness plans to provide essential care and services to their residents,” said LDH Secretary Dr Courtney N. Phillips.
“When problems arose after the storm, we now know that the level of care for these residents has plummeted; a person claiming to own the nursing home did not communicate the situation; then, after hearing reports from other people that conditions at the facility had deteriorated, our LDH expert was kicked off the property and LDH employees were intimidated.
In the end, lives were lost – it was grandparents, neighbors and friends, and we know families are hurting. As a ministry, we take formal regulatory action. ”
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has opened an investigation into the evacuations and associated deaths, seven of which occurred after the transfer to the warehouse.
Several residents of New Orleans area seniors’ facilities who had not been relocated before the storm died after being left without power for days amid sweltering heat in the aftermath of the storm Ida’s power cut in the region. Their bodies were discovered during welfare checks after the storm.
The Tangipahoa Parish warehouse had been assessed before the storm and considered a suitable place to house people according to predetermined plans for staffing, catering and laundry, potable water, portable toilets and a generator set of the appropriate size for the installation. However, authorities say the condition of the facility deteriorated as a result of the storm, but Dean did not communicate the situation and asked for help.
Authorities later found residents lying on mattresses on the floor without food or clean clothes. Piles of garbage and the smell of urine and feces were also present throughout the warehouse. Water had entered the building and the generator failed at least once. Residents were transported to other facilities over a two-day period, and some had to be hospitalized.
Speaking to WAFB-TV last week, Dean defended the handling of the situation. “We only had five deaths in six days, and normally with 850 people you will have two per day, so we took very good care of people,” he said.
Dean remained defiant in a statement to another outlet: “I usually lose two to three people a day to die. So four of the five who passed were in fact palliative care patients. You know, these are people who are about to come out.
In nine states, Ida and the flooding and devastation it left in its wake have left at least 72 people dead.
New Orleans City Council member Kristin Palmer told a press conference that managers of seniors ‘residences are avoiding liability because of the facilities’ “independent living” characterization.
“They are hiding under the ‘independent living’ loophole,” she said. “It’s not independent living if there is no electricity and you are in a wheelchair on the fourth floor.”