Loved ones speak out following Hollywood nursing home deaths

HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - Family members have begun speaking out after receiving news that their loved ones died in the wake of a power outage at a Hollywood nursing home.

As many as eight grandparents, parents and loved ones who stayed at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, located at 1200 N 35th Ave., were pronounced dead, officials said, due to intense heat and no power.

During a news conference, Thursday morning, City of Hollywood spokesperson Raelin Storey confirmed, “The initial investigation has determined the facility had some power. However, the building’s air conditioning system was not fully functional. Portable A/C units were used in an attempt to cool the facility.”

However, family members like Pedro Franco continue to try and figure out how the events unfolded. “We know one thing is that our dad passed because of whatever happened there,” said Franco.

Franco said he visited his 92-year-old father, Miguel Franco, and his mother at the nursing home the previous week. He added that both his parents seemed OK.

Franco’s mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, was hospitalized and unable to understand what occurred a day earlier. “This is something that could’ve been prevented,” said Pedro.

Other loved ones spoke out, Wednesday, after hearing the tragic news. “I wanna know what’s going on with my sister,” said a woman.

When asked if his loved one was alive, a man said, “I hope so, sir. This is why I came.”

Another woman added, “I think it’s horrible.”

Officials confirmed eight people have died, but it remains unknown whether the deaths are related to the heat. The eight people who died on Wednesday were between the ages of 71 and 99. One of the deaths occurred on Tuesday, a city official said.

“Why weren’t precautions taken?” asked Florida Senator Gary Farmer. “Why weren’t there more power supplies provided if there weren’t? Why weren’t they evacuated? You got a hospital right here, for God’s sake.”

A woman said she visited her long-time friend, who later died, Betty Hibbard, at the nursing home on Tuesday. “We stayed with her for about four hours,” she said. “They decided they would take all of the equipment off, and that was it. She was a wonderful, wonderful person.”

7News spoke with Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez, Thursday morning, who said they will be executing search warrants and interviewing people as they continue to investigate. “If we find anybody did any criminal wrongdoing, we are gonna hold them accountable to the full extent of the law,” he said.

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