Twenty-nine nursing home patients were recently evacuated from the facility by ambulance when air conditioning problems created "oven-like" conditions that sent indoor temperatures soaring well above 80 degrees. Patients were described by their families as "just hanging on wheelchairs," "sweating," "wiping their brow," "wiping their mouth," and "red."
The families contacted a local TV station to report the hot conditions. The station sent a TV reporter and crew, who attempted to interview the facility's administrator. The administrator called the police to have the TV reporters and crew arrested for causing a disturbance. When police responded, they went upstairs and found the conditions so unbearable and dangerous that patients were ordered by the fire marshal to be evacuated to other nursing homes. Read more about the nursing home's temperature control problems.
The nursing home's response to this emergency is sad and typical. But for the patients' families, the news crew would not have been contacted. But for the news crew's interest in the story, they would not have responded. But for the administrator's paranoid desire to deter negative media attention, she would not have contacted police. But for the response by law enforcement, the fire marshall would not have been contacted. But for the fire marshall's thoughtful response, there would have been no evacuation of patients. But for the evacuation, there would have been 29 bodies on the second floor of the facility instead of 29 evacuees. I'll bet the administrator would not have declared an emergency at the facility unless the air conditioning in her corporate office stopped working.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia
Posted on Thu, June 12, 2008
by Robert Carter