Nursing home records dispute ratchets up

Tallahassee Democrat by Jim Saunders

May 15, 2018

In the latest twist in months of legal battling after Hurricane Irma, an embattled Broward County nursing home has accused the Florida Department of Health of not properly complying with a judge’s order to turn over public records.

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis is scheduled Monday to hold a hearing on arguments by attorneys for The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills that the department should be held in contempt in the records dispute, according to an online docket and court records.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has faced months of scrutiny and a state move to revoke its license after residents died following Hurricane Irma. The Sept. 10 storm knocked out the nursing home’s air-conditioning system, creating sweltering conditions that led to the evacuation of residents on Sept. 13. Authorities have attributed 12 deaths to the problems at the nursing home.

The nursing home and the state have been locked in a legal battle about the license revocation and other issues, and The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills filed a public-records lawsuit Jan. 31, alleging that the department had improperly refused to provide copies of death certificates for people across the state from Sept. 9 through Sept. 16 — a week-long period that included Hurricane Irma and its immediate aftermath.

Court documents have not spelled out why the nursing home wants the death certificates, but Lewis last month said the death certificates are public records and should be provided by the state. [READ MORE]

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