PINELLAS PARK, Fla. -- Thirty residents of a Pinellas Park assisted living facility were relocated Thursday because air conditioning had not been restored since Hurricane Irma knocked power out on Sunday.
Power was on at Good Hope of Pinellas Assisted Living, but the air cooling system was not operating.
Assistant Fire Chief Brett Schlatterer told 10Investigates that no patients needed medical care. Fire and EMS crews were on the scene to organize the transport of the residents, who taken to Bristol Court Assisted Living Facility in St. Petersburg.
Reporters from 10Investigates were not allowed into the facility. Chief Schlatterer said the temperature inside the building was warm but not hot enough to pose a direct threat to residents.
Rob Angell, chief of the city’s emergency management division, said residents may choose to move to other facilities after arriving at Bristol Court.
Multiple wheelchair-capable vans arrived Thursday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. to move the patients. One ambulance was brought to transport a resident who is confined to a bed. Many of the residents walked out of the home with help from emergency responders, while others exited the building in wheelchairs.
The facility’s oldest resident is 104 years old, according to Angell. She was evacuated along with the other residents.
Good Hope is a one-story, white-brick building located a block off of Park Blvd. N. near the Pinellas Crossings shopping center.
Public records show that Good Hope recently changed ownership and under the previous management had a history of fines and deficiencies confirmed by state investigators.
In August 2016 the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration wrote Good Hope administrators a stern letter listing several areas where the facility didn’t comply with state law.
Among other violations, the state found Good Hope failed to properly supervise its residents, “failed to provide a safe living environment,” and staff members failed to follow their own policy preventing residents from leaving the facility without proper supervision.
The facility was fined $12,000 in 2012 for a similar problem. The state found Good Hope didn’t properly keep tabs on a resident who checked out. They couldn’t account for the resident for several days, even though the person had a history of seizures and suicidal thoughts, investigators found.
The staff at Good Hope didn’t know where the resident was until several days later when they turned up in the hospital, according to state reports. The resident had suffered a seizure at a church service and was admitted to the intensive care unit.
An assistant administrator told 10Investigates previous issues at the facility have since been resolved.
“Our residents are our family,” said Theresa Smith. “We care so much about them.”
State records show investigators have found recent deficiencies at the facility but they haven’t been as serious as the issues found in 2016 and before.
In February 2017 the state faulted Good Hope for not properly submitting a mandated emergency plan. Records show administrators submitted their emergency plan to firefighters, but neglected to also have it approved by the local emergency management agency. They are required to do that by law.