Investigators Putting Together Timeline of Events at Hollywood Nursing Home

As investigators gather evidence that could determine whether charges are brought in the deaths of eight residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, a timeline of events will be crucial.

But public information on details about what the state knew about the conditions there has been at times unclear.

For example, the state Department of Health reported the facility "reported into the state's facility status monitoring database 17 times since Thursday, September 7th."

But when the NBC 6 Investigators requesting data backing up that claim, it showed only five updates by the facility during that time frame.

Asked to clarify, the Health Department spokeswoman who claimed there were 17 reports Thursday referred the NBC 6 Investigators, to the Agency for Healthcare Administration, which passed the buck to state emergency managers, who did not respond to questions about the possible discrepancy.

Thursday night, the Health Department stepped back in to respond, saying "the facility reported updates 17 times. Further, it’s shocking that these trained medical professionals put patients’ lives in needless jeopardy. The fact is that this facility never called 911. Let’s remember, this facility is located across the street from Memorial Healthcare, one of the largest hospitals in the state, which never lost power. The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills is responsible for the health and safety of their patients."

While some nursing homes reported difficulty reporting their status either by phone or on a web-based application used by state health officials, an AHCA spokeswoman said Thursday evening "at no time did Florida Health STAT, the state’s reporting system have a breakdown."

An AHCA official at the state's emergency management center expressed concern Thursday to colleagues and nursing home industry representatives that some facilities have not been reporting their status to the Health STAT system twice a day, as required by the state during the disaster -- suggesting power outages may be to blame.

As for the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, there appears in the database to be a gap of nearly two days between the times the facility updated its status with the state Health STAT system.

They show someone using the email address of Jorge Carballo updated the center's information at 6:51 p.m. Sunday, reporting air conditioning and power were both "operational."

The database appears to show the next update from the facility was not until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday -- leaving a nearly 46-hour gap in the updates, as reflected in the database.

In its order filed Wednesday evening shutting down the facility as a threat to public health and safety, the state Agency for Healthcare Administration states the home became aware the power to the air conditioning unit went down Sunday -- presumably Sunday evening, as the home reported it was operational at 6:51 p.m. Sunday.

By Monday, eight portable air coolers and fans were placed around the facility, operating on the standard 110 voltage that was apparently not affected when a larger voltage transformer serving the air conditioning chiller failed Sunday.

By Tuesday, relatives of residents say the halls were sweltering, and local authorities and Florida Power and Light say they had been contacted by then, but administrators did not call for an evacuation.

The first mention of the problems in the state database come around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, when an AHCA employee updated the database to reflect the nursing home was on "partial" power, the air conditioning was "non-operational."

In a notes field, it states: "Have spot coolers and fans. Chiller is not operational pulling outside air."

A note attributed to administrator Carballo says "Florida Power and Light ticket #4301 need chiller turned on by FPL."

By Tuesday night, 99-year-old Albertina Vega would succumb in the suffocating heat of the facility's second floor -- the first of eight residents who died.

The medical examiner has not yet ruled any of the deaths were caused by the conditions inside the facility -- a determination that would be crucial to any decision about whether anyone would be charged in connection with any deaths.

But we do know that all of those residents rescued from the heat Wednesday morning have survived thus far.

A spokesperson for the nursing home did not respond to detailed questions about the events.

And Carballo did not respond to a text sent to a contact cellphone number he had on file with the state.

While the database does show 17 entries indicating times between Thursday and Wednesday where data about the center was extracted, almost all of those entries simply repeat the information from the most recent previous update.

That leaves only five unique, time-stamped contacts listed in the field that appears to reflect when the facility update was received.

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