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Louisiana revokes nursing home licenses after 7 residents die amid Hurricane Ida

Louisiana revokes nursing home licenses after 7 residents die amid Hurricane Ida
The U.S. Coast Guard conducts Hurricane Ida post-storm overflights along the Gulf Coast on August 30, 2021. Aircrews conducted overflights near Galliano, Louisiana, to assess damage and identify hazards. Photo by U.S. Coast Guard/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Health officials in Louisiana have revoked the licenses of seven nursing homes that had ahead of Hurricane Ida evacuated their residents to a warehouse where seven of them died.

The Louisiana Department of Health announced in a statement Tuesday that the licenses for the seven nursing homes in Orleans, Lafourche, Jefferson and Terrebonne parishes were being revoked.

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"All of these nursing facilities clearly failed to execute their emergency preparedness plans to provide essential care and services to their residents," LDH Secretary Courtney Phillips said. "Ultimately, lives were lost -- these were grandparents, neighbors and friends, and we know families are hurting."

Late last month, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm, killing at least 13 people in the state and cutting power to more than 1 million customers. According to poweroutage.us, more than 338,000 people in Louisiana were still without power.

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Ahead of the storm, the seven nursing homes, apparently all owned by the same person, evacuated to a Tangipahoa Parish facility, located about 72 miles north of New Orleans.

Health officials said the facility prior to the storm making landfall had "met minimum necessary components" to provide safe shelter for a short period of time.

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However, after the storm hit, conditions rapidly deteriorated, they said.

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"While this was going on, the facility's owner, rather than reaching out for help in regards to the situation from state regulators, was orchestrating a campaign with the goal of preventing a proper assessment of what the situation was at the site via threats, harassment and intimidation," they said in the notice of license revocation.

"This type of conduct, while also possibly violating the right of the resident to receive adequate and appropriate healthcare and protective and support services, is clearly demonstrative of indifference to the welfare of the residences," the notice said.

Health officials began evacuating the warehouse on Sept. 1 and "by end of day had rescued the vast majority" of the hundreds of residents at facility, the health department said in a statement.

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However, seven residents died, including five classified as storm-related.

"The lack of regard for these vulnerable residents' wellbeing is an affront to human dignity," said Joseph Kanter, Louisiana's state health officer. "We have lost trust in these nursings homes to provide adequate care for their residents."

On Saturday, health officials ordered the seven nursing homes to immediately close and Attorney General Jeff Landry on Friday announced he has launched an investigation.

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"Our goal will be to determine who decided to move these patients to this apparently unsafe and potentially inappropriate facility. We wish to determine who authorized that these patients be moved to that facility, who oversaw the movement, who later turned away career staff members of the Louisiana Department of Health when they attempted to look into this situation," he said in a statement, asking, "How exactly did these deaths occur?"

The seven nursing homes named Tuesday are 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 De Ville Nursing Home and Maison Deville Nursing Home of Harvey.

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