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Nursing Home Residents Continue to Suffer in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

A New York nursing home fell short of giving its patients basic care amid the fierce tantrums of Sandy, the worst hurricane to strike New York City in close to 80 years. This was revealed in the course of interviews with five employees, shelter directors and federal, city, and hospital officials. Our nursing home neglect lawyers are shocked at this complete neglect of elderly and weak patients at the home.

Interviews with staff members revealed that the nursing home overlooked certain basic responsibilities such as stocking adequate flashlights and medicine, increasing the number of staffers for the storm, and keeping patients’ records ready in case of evacuation. The administrator of the care home left the city around the time the hurricane approached, citing a “personal matter” as the reason for his departure. The nursing director left the following afternoon to check on her unwell husband. She returned only after the storm subsided.

Two neighboring nursing homes had their generators positioned either walled-off from the water or off-the ground. However, this particular nursing home had its generator nearer to ground level. So it was no surprise that the generator did not work when Hurricane Sandy hit. The generator filled with Atlantic sea water and waves banged against the facility for hours with the patients inside the dark facility, cold and hungry.

The situation became so bad that ambulances arrived to rescue close to 200 patients at the home and placed them in emergency shelters in various parts of NYC. No staff member of the facility accompanied the majority of those evacuated. A lot of patients didn’t have their medical records with them when they traveled. Both of these types of negligence constitute violations of state regulations.

Sadly, some family members are still desperately looking for their loved ones and the nursing home does not appear to be assisting them in any way.

This is not the first occasion that the nursing home responded poorly to a major storm. In 2011, when a storm started to blow onshore, the nursing home was perilously slow to react, again sending its patients without medical records or staff members. The State Health Department neither carried out an investigation into the negligence nor fined the facility.

The state health commissioner said that her main concern was patient health and safety and the nursing home totally violated that concern. However, the state’s management of the situation is questionable. When the less violent Hurricane Irene was about to strike, she ordered a large number of nursing homes in a risk-prone area to evacuate. However, she did not do so when Hurricane Sandy was about to strike, even though the care homes were in an evacuation zone.

Prior to the onset of the storm, the State Health Department demanded that all nursing homes keep staff levels 150 percent of the normal, ensure there was a working generator for a power failure situation, and keep three days’ medicine and food in reserve. Staff members at the home said they were short on food, medication, nurses and aides at the time of the storm.

In related nursing home negligence news, three Florida residents were arrested on allegations of running unlicensed assisted living facilities. The State Attorney’s Office, working in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Office, carried out the arrests.

When investigators examined the facility, they discovered multiple perils such as termite infestations, missing smoke detectors, unsanitary conditions and unsafe electrical work. Following the inspection, code enforcement condemned the facility and its residents were relocated. If you believe a loved one was abused or neglected in a nursing home, contact a nursing home neglect attorney immediately to protect your legal rights.