State revokes licenses of nursing homes that evacuated residents to shelter now tied to 7 deaths
INDEPENDENCE - State health officials are shutting down several nursing homes that evacuated more than 800 residents to a warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish that is now tied to at least seven deaths.
On Tuesday, the state announced it is in the process of revoking the licenses of seven nursing homes that evacuated there and terminating their Medicare provider agreement.
In a letter sent to all seven nursing homes alerting them of the license revocation, LDH officials lay out what investigators founded inside the Independence facilty.
After an August 30, assessment, a health surveyor noted, 'piles of dirty linens were observed in this room, residents were not wearing face masks, the building smelled strongly of urine and dampness, and was stuffy.'
Other disturbing conditions were detailed in the 12-page letter, including, 'surveyor #4 noticed a male resident in only a t-shirt and diaper full of feces.'
Other instances of employees inside the facility acknowledging the neglect, or residents unable to get help from staff members were noted in the revocation notice.
"All seven facilities have failed to properly execute post-landfall emergency preparedness plans to provide essential care and services to their residents," Stephen Russo, LDH's director of legal, audit and regulatory affairs, said Tuesday.
Russo said state health officials first heard concerns about the warehouse in the early morning of Monday, August 30, when a state emergency official received a report of water intrusion at the facility.
"We had gotten word that approximately eight inches of water had infiltrated at least one or two buildings on that site," Russo said. "That is what put [this] on our radar, and it was a health concern."
From there, Russo says officials received inconsistent information from the warehouse, and that Bob Dean, owner of that facility and the seven nursing homes, began a 'campaign of threats, intimidation and attempts at interfering with LDH's ability to properly assess the site.'
Louisiana's chief health officer, Dr. Joseph Kanter, announced Saturday that the state health department ordered the shutdown of the seven facilities across Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans and Terrebonne parishes.
-River Palms Nursing and Rehab, Orleans Parish
-South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab, Lafourche Parish
-Maison Orleans Healthcare Center, Orleans Parish
-Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home, Jefferson Parish
-West Jefferson Health Care Center, Jefferson Parish
-Maison DeVille Nursing Home, Terrebonne Parish
-Maison DeVille Nursing Home of Harvey, Jefferson Parish
Roughly 850 people evacuated from those nursing homes were rushed to the makeshift shelter in Independence on Aug. 27 ahead of Hurricane Ida. In the days following the storm, four people died, and representatives from the health department were blocked from checking on complaints of deplorable conditions at the warehouse, which reportedly took on water and encountered issues with its generators.
“What happened in Independence is reprehensible, and I know there are many families hurting as a result,” LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney N. Phillips said. “Today’s action against these facilities is needed. There is more to come. Our Department’s mission is to advance the health and wellbeing of our residents — and that includes our vulnerable nursing home residents.”
The remaining residents were rescued from the facility Wednesday and Thursday, more than a dozen of whom were sent to hospitals. In the days since that rescue, another three evacuees have died.
If you are trying to reach someone who was evacuated to the Independence warehouse, you can call 211 or 1-800-755-5175 or visit dcfs.louisiana.gov/connect.