UNITED STATES. Louisiana: Louisiana’s health department on Tuesday revoked the licenses of several nursing homes after seven residents died following the evacuation of hundreds to an “inhumane” warehouse to shelter during Hurricane Ida — a situation that the department said involved unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
More than 800 residents of seven southeastern Louisiana nursing homes were evacuated to a single warehouse in the town of Independence, where conditions were later determined to be unhealthy, according to state health officials, who said they’ve launched an investigation into the facility.
The seven nursing homes are no longer housing residents now.
Several family members of residents in the nursing homes who were sent to the warehouse filed a class-action lawsuit against the seven nursing facilities from which residents were moved, as well as their executive. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and damages on behalf of the residents.
“Let’s be clear; there is no emergency-preparedness plan that allows for residents to be kept in such an unsafe, unsanitary, and unhealthy condition,” Stephen Russo, director of legal, audit and regulatory affairs for the health department, said on Tuesday. “The lack of adequate care for these residents is inhumane, and goes against the rules, regulations, and applicable statutes.”
CNN obtained the 61 call logs from the warehouse to 911 operators. At least 30 of the calls asked for assistance with medical episodes before and after landfall, including calls for seizures, stopped breathing, and one instance in which a caller says a diabetic patient needed transport because they had “not eaten due to them having no more supplies.”
The seven nursing homes are owned by Baton Rouge businessman Bob Dean.
According to Russo, his agency’s investigators have encountered resistance from nursing home administrators and were “intimidated” by Dean through a phone conversation.
The agency gave prior approval to Dean’s evacuation plan to the warehouse, but Russo said Dean and his staff failed to deliver “the basic necessities and safety requirements.”
The health department has said that inspectors were sent to the warehouse August 31 but were expelled and kept from doing a full assessment.
By September 2, all residents were shifted from the warehouse over concerns about conditions to elsewhere, including to medical special needs shelters, officials said.
The seven facilities that had their licenses revoked cannot repatriate or admit residents, officials said. The homes also had their Medicaid provider agreements terminated, the health department added.