A search warrant has been granted for a Florida nursing home where eight patients died after Hurricane Irma as investigators continue their criminal investigation into the incident. (Sept. 14)
TALLAHASSEE — The owner of a Florida nursing home whose 11 residents died after Hurricane Irma has benefited for years from millions of dollars in government contracts despite repeatedly running afoul of state and federal regulators.
Dr. Jack Michel, owner of Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, owns a Miami hospital that has received $48 million in taxpayer money since 2006 to treat state prisoners.
The payments to Larkin Community Hospital started the same year Michel settled a federal fraud lawsuit that accused him of bilking taxpayers. They continued after the state barred one of his assisted-living homes from taking new patients.
And state officials are giving no indication that the payments will stop now despite Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s comments that the owner is unfit to care for patients after deaths at his nursing home.
► Tuesday: Florida disaster chief quits as state recovers from hurricane
► Saturday: 11th resident of South Florida nursing home dies
► Wednesday: Nursing home owner rips Florida move to stop Medicaid, ban patients
Larkin provides the prison hospital care under no-bid agreements that the Florida Department of Corrections approved, according to agency contract and finance records. The hospital has served as a subcontractor to the state’s prison health care vendors with approval from corrections officials.
Eight elderly patients died Sept. 13 after Irma knocked out power at Michel’s nursing home and residents remained for several days without air conditioning. Three other patients died days later after being hospitalized with complications.
Scott issued a scathing statement Monday, again criticizing the facility’s owners and staff for failing to call 911 to help patients suffering from extreme heat. The governor has been responding to claims that he and other state officials didn’t respond to messages from nursing home administrators asking for help after Irma knocked out power.