Nursing home residents were still being evacuated from a warehouse Thursday afternoon in Independence after four of them died and hundreds were rescued.
About a half dozen ambulances are lined up at the Waterbury Companies warehouse off of Calhoun Street. Residents are being brought out on stretchers.
The Louisiana Department of Health said 843 patients were brought there from seven nursing homes in Orleans, Lafourche, Jefferson and Terrebonne Parishes because of Hurricane Ida. Four have died so far, and 12 required hospitalization.
They said the operators of the site expelled LDH inspectors.
“This is a serious and active investigation,” the health department news release said. “We will be taking action against these nursing facilities, and will be making appropriate referrals to law enforcement.”
Four Louisiana nursing home residents have died and several hundred more have needed rescuing after seven nursing homes sent more than 800 pat…
The rescue effort involves ambulances and other vehicles from a host of agencies, Acadian Ambulance, the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office, and transportation vans with FEMA placards in the windows.
The center of Hurricane Ida passed about 15 miles southwest of Independence late Sunday, putting the community in the strongest portion of the storm’s eyewall. At the time, the National Hurricane Center said the storm was still producing hurricane-force winds above 75 mph.
The affects of the hurricane were obvious in the area, with downed power lines and other debris widespread.
The patients who were brought to the facility came from seven nursing homes. They are:
- River Palms Nursing and Rehab in Orleans Parish
- South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab in Lafourche Parish
- Maison Orleans Healthcare Center in Orleans Parish
- Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home in Jefferson Parish
- West Jefferson Health Care Center in Jefferson Parish
- Maison DeVille Nursing Home in Terrebonne Parish
- Maison DeVille Nursing Home of Harvey in Jefferson Parish.
By around 4:30 p.m., all of the ambulances were gone and the rescue effort seemed to be winding down.
People who lived nearby said they were aware that people were being brought to the facility before the storm. After the storm, they said a huge line of buses showed up to get people out.
Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller said he was notified when the patients were set to be transferred from the nursing homes to the backup location in Independence. He was told the facility was designed to hold between 200 to 400 people.
“We were always told it was going to be 300 or so,” he said. “It turned into 800-plus. When the city realized how many were coming, they started getting concerned.”
Over time, Miller said his office began to hear reports about substandard conditions at the facility and started to feed the information to LDH, the fire marshal’s office and other agencies that oversee the facility.
“As reports came out about it, we started pushing it up higher and more often in every one of our update calls,” Miller said. “Trying to make sure the state understood what was happening. It came in just too late.”
He called the situation “very, very tragic and unnecessary.” Most of the patients have been moved to a special needs shelter at LSU-Alexandria.
“It’s just so upsetting,” he said. “As soon as we knew anything about it we worked as hard as we could.”
Miller referenced tragedies involving nursing homes after Hurricane Katrina, and said they led to tougher regulations.
“We’re going to use this to make better operational situations down the road,” he said. “We’re not going to let it end like this for anyone else.”
Brigette Delatte Hyde, the Tangipahoa Parish Council chairwoman, said she was aware that the residents had been evacuated, but was shocked to find today they were still there.
Four Louisiana nursing home residents died and hundreds more needed to be rescued from a Tangipahoa Parish warehouse where several area nursin…