When Leo Perez entered Hialeah Hospital on Saturday afternoon to meet his new grandson, he expected a respite from the 90-degree heat.
But what he found inside reminded him of his home country of Cuba. An assortment of fans greeted him inside the waiting room and at his stepdaughter’s bedside, as an hours-long air conditioning malfunction caused soaring temperatures and forced nurses to take fresh-air breaks outside.
Perez, a 61-year-old Cuban-American living in Hallandale Beach, said the hospital felt like a “third-world” country.
“I just came back from Cuba and got better treatment,” Perez said. “It was hell.”
In a statement to the Miami Herald, a hospital spokeswoman confirmed the air conditioning outage and said staff was working to transfer some patients to other hospitals. By 10 p.m., the hospital said, the system was back online.
“Earlier today, the cooling system at Hialeah Hospital malfunctioned. Repairs are underway. As a cautionary measure, and to ensure the safety and comfort of our patients, we have begun to transfer some of the most critical patients to nearby facilities,” the statement read.
Perez said he was frustrated that he physically could not bear to stay at the hospital with his family. For now, Perez’s stepdaughter remains hospitalized on the fourth floor as she recovers after the birth of her child, a healthy boy.
“This is ridiculous,” Perez said. “I had to leave. I can’t stand the heat.”