Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Lawmakers to Seek Answers as Florida Nursing-Home Death Toll Rises

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Florida lawmakers will hold a special hearing this week to look at lessons learned from Hurricane Irma. This comes as two women who lived at a Florida nursing home that lost air conditioning during the storm have died. 

Ninety-year-old Cecilia Franco and 95-year-old Francesca Andrade were the latest casualties after suffering health complications from being left in the facility's sweltering heat. 

Albert Levin, the family attorney for Cecilia Franco, says the loss is another devastating blow since Cecilia's husband, Miguel, died three days after the storm.

"We will amend the pleadings we've already filed accordingly to ensure that this family receives justice for having lost their mother, their father, their grandmother and their grandfather as a result of this horrific tragedy," he says. 

Hollywood police are treating the deaths as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison recently filed legislation to make nursing homes and hospitals priorities for power restoration after a storm.

In 2005 a bill that would have required nursing homes to have backup generators to protect residents failed to pass after resistance from the nursing-home industry. Levin says he would welcome a new bill.

"Well, the family wants justice for their loved ones and they also want to make sure that this never happens to another family again," he explains. "And if that requires legislation to ensure that this doesn't happen again, they are all in favor of it."

The state has suspended the home's license. Last week, the facility laid off 245 workers, including doctors, nurses, occupational and physical therapists and others.

This piece was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

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