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Nursing home owner appeals state's decision to revoke licenses after botched evacuation

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BATON ROUGE - The appeals process has officially started for nursing home owner Bob Dean, who is under investigation following a mass evacuation to a makeshift shelter ahead of Hurricane Ida.

The appeal was filed last week by Dean's attorney John McLindon to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).

"The fact that LDH had everyone on site on August 27 and 28, two days before the storm, while people were being evacuated there... They gave them a clean bill of health," McLindon said. "You've got supplies, materials and everything looks good."

So far, Dean is the focus of nearly a dozen lawsuits tied to the evacuation to the warehouse in Independence.

Earlier this month, McLindon downplayed the conditions inside. When asked about the conditions at the shelter, McLindon says it wasn't as bad as the press portrayed it. He also says members of the staff he spoke with are upset because they felt they worked extremely hard in a very difficult situation, and now they're being attacked.

State health officials shut down the warehouse on Sept. 2. McLindon said attempts were already being made to move patients when the state came in.

"They had already placed 100 people in other nursing homes," McLindon said. "They are in the process of placing the rest of them when LDH came in and took over the operation."

The Department of Health declined to do an on-camera interview because this is an ongoing investigation, however a spokesperson told WBRZ the Division of Administrative Law would appoint a three-judge panel to hear the appeal.

"Trees are down," McLindon said. "Power lines are down. Staff had trouble getting there. Linen service couldn't get there. The portalet people couldn't get there and somehow we get blamed for that... It's not fair."

Ultimately, McLindon says the evacuation plan was approved by LDH, but admits they may have gone over the capacity levels "a little bit." He said when they realized the hurricane was shifting, they decided to put the patients in the strongest of the three buildings they had.

The Department of Health said at this time there is no timeline on when a hearing will be held.

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