Three Broward County lawmakers have asked Gov. Rick Scott to initiate an independent state investigation into the deaths Wednesday of eight residents of a Hollywood nursing home.
The elders all were living at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, a long-troubled nursing home that turned into a sweat lodge when it partially lost power, and borrowed air cooling systems failed. The Hollywood Police Department said it had initiated a criminal investigation into the deaths, and two state agencies — the Department of Children & Families and the Agency for Health Care Administration — are conducting administrative probes, as well.
In a letter to Scott Thursday, two state senators and one representative from Broward requested that the governor direct the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to take over the criminal investigation.
“We make this request in recognition of the numerous and various parties that will be included in such an investigation,” the letter said, referring to the nursing home itself, as well some local government agencies that had oversight roles, such as Hollywood’s police and fire departments. The letter is signed by Sen. Gary M. Farmer Jr. of Fort Lauderdale, Sen. Lauren Book of Plantation and Rep. Shevrin D. “Shev” Jones of West Park — all Democrats.
“We believe the FDLE is best equipped to perform the broader investigation and provide assurance to the community that a full, complete and impartial investigation into potential criminal liability is conducted,” the lawmakers wrote. “Based on all of the early information provided to us by the Hollywood Police Department, Hollywood Fire Rescue, and medical information provided, there certainly appears to have been an avoidable loss of these elderly citizens of our community.”
A spokeswoman from the city of Hollywood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Scott’s press secretary, Lauren Schenone, confirmed that the governor received the letter.
“FDLE has been on site providing assistance and will continue to provide any assistance requested by the Hollywood Police Department’s criminal homicide investigators,” Schenone added.