15 nursing home residents have died since mass evacuation to makeshift storm shelter
BATON ROUGE - Several more nursing home residents have died in recent weeks after they were crammed into a mass shelter where hundreds were taken to ride out Hurricane Ida, though the state is hesitant to link the latest deaths to the evacuation that happened nearly a month ago.
The Louisiana Department of Health confirmed that the death toll among the roughly 850 residents taken to the warehouse in Independence has risen to 15 as of Thursday. The state last reported, over two weeks ago, that seven people evacuated to the shelter had died.
Among those deaths, health officials have only confirmed that five were "storm-related" so far, meaning they were attributed to the storm and its surrounding conditions.
"As time passes and given the health conditions that required a nursing home level of care, unfortunately the number of deaths among this group is likely to increase. That is why it is important to make a distinction between the number of total deaths regardless of cause and the number of storm-related deaths," an LDH spokesperson said Wednesday.
Several lawsuits have been filed in wake of the mass evacuation, which was tied to nursing homes owned by Baton Rouge businessman Bob Dean. The state has since pulled the licenses of those nursing homes that evacuated residents to the makeshift shelter.
An investigation involving multiple state agencies is ongoing.
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