The Latest: State cuts off Medicaid funds for nursing home

by: The Associated Press Updated:

The Latest on Hurricane Irma (all times local):

9:10 p.m.

A Florida nursing home where eight people died after Hurricane Irma will no longer receive state Medicaid funds.

Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday night that he has directed the Agency for Health Care Administration to terminate the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills as a Medicaid provider. The program provides health care for low-income individuals and families.

Workers at the facility say Hurricane Irma caused the air conditioning to fail Sunday and they struggled to keep residents cool with fans, cold towels and ice.

Scott says in a statement that the state has had multiple points of contact with the facility before the Wednesday discovery of deaths. He says at no time did the facility communicate any imminent threats to its patients.

All patients have since been evacuated.

___

4:45 p.m.

A hurricane cleanup crew working near a waterfront hotel in Miami has found a dead body under a pile of seaweed.

Miami police spokesman Rene Pimentel says the unidentified white man's naked body was found Thursday afternoon near The Mutiny Hotel in the city's Coconut Grove neighborhood.

Pimentel says a medical examiner will have to determine a cause of death, but there were no obvious signs of foul play. It wasn't clear if the man's death was related to Hurricane Irma.

___

4:40 p.m.

Millions in Florida remain without power but the lights are continuing to come on across the state.

Florida officials and utilities report Thursday afternoon that 2.31 million homes and businesses are still without power. The total number of people who remain without electricity at those homes and business is larger.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, roughly 65 percent of all homes and businesses in the state were in the dark. That has dropped to 22 percent.

Florida Power & Light, the state's largest utility, has said it plans to have east coast customers restored by Sunday. But FPL said it will take until Sept. 22 to restore power to the battered areas in southwest Florida.

___

4:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he's planning to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which were both badly damaged by Hurricane Irma.

Trump told reporters Thursday aboard Air Force One that he'll be making the trip "at the end of next week or the following week."

Trump spent the day surveying flood damage and visiting with storm victims in Florida.

He's also been to Texas twice after Hurricane Harvey.

___

2:50 p.m.

Federal officials say that nursing homes normally reserved for veterans will be opened up to non-veteran nursing home residents if space is available, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had agreed to open its nursing homes following eight deaths at Florida nursing home. Florida has seven nursing homes throughout the state that are available to residents who were veterans.

Multiple nursing homes and assisted living centers in Florida have evacuated their residents after losing electric power.

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin said in a statement that available beds will be offered to non-veterans, although the agency would continue to focus on its primary mission of assisting veterans.

___

2:45 p.m.

Florida Chief Justice Jorge Labarga has begun issuing orders extending legal deadlines in state courts due to Hurricane Irma. Under Florida's court rules, the chief justice has authority to extend deadlines on a county-by-county basis or by appellate district when an emergency like Irma hinders public access to the courts system.

The first orders posted Thursday on the court website cover Martin, Indian River, St. Lucie and Okeechobee Counties. The chief judges of the local courts are continuing to request these orders, and the requests are being processed as they come in.

Each order extends time limits to the close of business on the day the local court fully reopens, giving everyone an extra full day to meet their deadlines. In addition, anyone who has encountered a special hardship in the storm can ask the local court to make additional accommodations.

The orders are being posted on this website:

http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/emergency.shtml

___

1:45 p.m.

Authorities say carbon monoxide poisoning is the likely cause of death for another Florida resident using an electric generator for power after Hurricane Irma.

The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department reported Thursday that 26-year-old Elvin Milian was pronounced dead one day earlier at a hospital. He had been found by emergency responders at his home near Hialeah, where a generator was running.

The medical examiner is awaiting toxicology results before making a final determination on the cause of death.

Previously, Florida had reported at least six carbon monoxide deaths since Irma.

When used improperly, generators can trap toxic fumes and cause death. Experts say generators, as well as charcoal and gas burning grills, should always be used outdoors and never inside where they can't be properly ventilated.

___

1:20 p.m.

The Florida Health Care Association says 64 of the state's 683 nursing homes are still without power, four days after Hurricane Irma raked the state.

The association released a statement giving that total as of Thursday morning.

The statement said, in part, said, "A natural disaster of this magnitude presents extreme challenges to every sector, especially those entrusted with the care of Florida's aging seniors. We continue to maintain close communications with local, state, and federal officials and the appropriate utility companies and aid organizations to ensure that power is restored to every facility in Florida as soon as possible."

___

12:45 p.m.

A spokesman for Florida's largest utility is telling people who have medical equipment that relies on electricity to call 911 if they are still without power.

Bryan Garner with Florida Power & Light said Thursday that the utility has restored electricity to more than 100 hospitals in its service territory.

But he said that if someone relies on medical equipment that needs power that they should not wait for the utility to restore electricity. Garner said authorities should be alerted so they can be taken somewhere where they can be helped such as a special needs shelter.

Garner comments came a day after eight people who had been living at a Florida nursing home died. State and local authorities are conducting a criminal investigation to determine what led to the patient deaths.

___

12:15 p.m.

After eight people died in a sweltering Florida nursing home that lost air conditioning in Hurricane Irma, an association of assisted living centers is trying to get a count of how many of their 820 facilities are still without power.

Florida Assisted Living Association CEO Shaddrick Haston said Thursday that most are in heavily populated Miami-Dade and Collier counties.

Haston said they are still hearing from facilities that need power, and are working with other facilities that do have electricity and may have generators available to loan.

He said the association is also helping non-member assisted living facilities. In all, Florida has more than 3,100 assisted living facilities. Multiple other facilities were evacuated.

Eight patients died at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

According to Florida law, nursing homes must maintain a temperature of 81 degrees or cooler.

___

Noon

A search warrant has been granted for a Florida nursing home where eight patients died days after Hurricane Irma.

Hollywood police said in a statement Thursday that state and local authorities are conducting a criminal investigation to determine what led to the patient deaths at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

They said detectives are on the scene, and their initial investigation determined the facility had some power but its air conditioning system wasn't fully functional.

Police said 145 people were evacuated to Memorial Regional Hospital on Wednesday: 141 from the nursing home and four from an adjacent behavioral health center. Memorial Regional Hospital processed 119 evacuees, and 39 have been admitted there. Others were admitted to other hospitals nearby.

Gov. Rick Scott directed the Agency for Health Care Administration to issue an emergency moratorium on the facility. City spokeswoman Raelin Storey said the moratorium prevents the center from housing any patients.

___

11:30 a.m.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson has asked the nation's largest cable, telephone and internet providers for rebates to Hurricane Irma victims for service interruptions.

The Democratic U.S. senator also asked them Thursday for a 60-day moratorium on late fees and other penalties.

Nelson wrote to the CEOs of AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Enterprises, Frontier Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. In a statement, he called for them to "lend a helping hand to your fellow Americans-to help them meet their immediate needs without the added stress of excessive financial demands."

His office cited Federal Communications Commission data showing that at least 8.1 million cable and wireline subscribers have lost service in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia because of Hurricane Irma. The FCC also reported that 18 percent of cell sites in Florida were out of service.

___

11:10 a.m.

Residents at an assisted living facility in suburban Fort Lauderdale who have been without power since Hurricane Irma are being moved to two facilities across the street that have electricity.

Wilton Manors City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson told The Associated Press on Thursday that the Williamsburg Landing assisted living facility has been using generators to power portable air conditioner units in certain areas of the building.

All three facilities are owned by the same company, Manor Oaks. Williamsburg is the last assisted living facility in the city without power.

The move is being done "to make the residents more comfortable," Henderson said. "It's a comfort issue."

State records show Williamsburg Landing is licensed to have 100 beds.

___

10:55 a.m.

Authorities say it appears Interstate 75 will remain open throughout Florida for people returning home after fleeing Hurricane Irma because a potential flooding threat has subsided.

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office said Thursday on Twitter that state transportation officials intend to keep traffic flowing on the key artery. Authorities had feared a much slower detour route might be necessary if the Santa Fe River flooded the interstate near Gainesville.

Interstates 75 and 95 are the two main routes out of Florida to the north. Both have seen massive traffic jams as people first left as Irma approached and then began returning home.

___

10:50 a.m.

Georgia's governor is getting a firsthand look at storm damage caused by Irma.

Gov. Nathan Deal was scheduled Thursday to fly over some of the hardest hit areas in northern Georgia as well as on the coast. The governor planned to speak with reporters during stops in Cornelia and Brunswick.

Fewer than 269,000 customers of Georgia Power and Georgia Electric Membership Corp. were still without electricity Thursday morning. That's down from 1.5 million in the dark Monday when Irma crossed Georgia as a weakened tropical storm.

Irma's punch was felt statewide. Storm surge flooded homes and businesses on the coast, while tropical storm winds toppled trees onto roads, homes and power lines north of Atlanta.

___

9:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is praising the recovery efforts in Florida before departing for the state to survey damage from Hurricane Irma.

The president told reporters at the White House that "power is being turned on rapidly," and the state's leaders and emergency responders are doing an "amazing job" in helping the state respond to the massive storm.

Trump was traveling to Naples and Fort Myers on Florida's southwestern coast to meet with those affected by the hurricane and learn more about relief efforts. Trump was being joined by Vice President Mike Pence and was also traveling with first lady Melania Trump.

His trip to Florida follows two earlier outings in which Trump reviewed recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey in late August.

___

7:30 a.m.

Fire rescue teams have evacuated 122 people from two assisted living facilities near Orlando after the Orange County fire chief order firefighters to assess conditions of all elderly communities in the area following the deaths of eight at another nursing home.

Fire Spokeswoman Kat Kennedy told local news outlets that Brookdale Wekiwa Springs and Green Tree Assisted Living had been without power since Hurricane Irma crossed Florida earlier this week. Officials evacuated 82 residents from Brookdale on Wednesday night and 40 from Green Tree.

Kennedy says 66 patients were transported by bus and 16 were picked up by family members.

Mary Ann Lettore tells WESH that she picked up her father from Brookdale on Wednesday because he'd fallen and cut his arm during the storm. She took him to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with dehydration.

Kennedy says the residents were obviously "very hot." She said she doesn't have information on how often they were provided food and water.

Eight residents died at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after the facility lost air conditioning.

___

6:50 a.m.

Sheriff's officials in Florida say two men are accused of trying to steal a $2,500 utility pole days after Hurricane Irma caused severe flooding in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Sheriff's officials say 42-year-old Blake Lee Waller and 46-year-old Victor Walter Apeler were arrested on grand theft charges Wednesday after someone reported seeing them load the pole onto a sports utility vehicle.

A police report says an officer noticed a light pole missing from an area on top of a bridge and then spotted a vehicle driving with the pole on top. He stopped the vehicle and arrested the men.

The report says Apeler told investigators he was moving the pole because it was on the ground so close to traffic lanes. A database search found Apeler had 72 scrap metal-related transactions for recycling since January.

A picture of the shirtless men sitting handcuffed on the sidewalk quickly drew attention on the sheriff's office Twitter feed.

___

3 a.m.

Florida emergency workers have been urged to immediately check the welfare of those in nursing homes after eight people died in a scorching facility that lost its air conditioning during Hurricane Irma.

Victims Wednesday at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were as old as 99, and there were worries the count could grow.

Sen. Bill Nelson called the deaths "inexcusable."

Elsewhere in South Florida, other alarms were sounded for older residents.

In Coral Gables, an apartment building was evacuated after authorities said its lack of power made it unsafe for elderly tenants.

And at the huge, 15,000-resident Century Village retirement community in Pembroke Pines, where there were also widespread outages, rescue workers went door to door in the 94-degree heat checking on residents and bringing ice, water and meals.

___

HURRICANE NEWSLETTER - Get the best of the AP's all-formats reporting on Irma and Harvey in your inbox: http://apne.ws/ahYQGtb

Next Up: