“Heartbreaking” investigation into senior living deaths in New Orleans continues

Hurricane Ida
Amanda Shaw Hurricane Ida Benefit Concert

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — With five residents found dead at senior living facilities and more than 600 deemed to be in “imminent danger,” the New Orleans Health Department continues the search for elderly residents who might still be suffering in post-Ida misery.

And now, it’s become a blame game.

Of the eight facilities in which deaths occurred, six are owned and operated by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. And the Archdiocese blames the city for not responding to their needs.

In a statement sent to WGNO by Archdiocese of New Orleans Director of Communications, Sarah McDonald, the Archdiocese says the leadership of the six facilities “repeatedly requested assistance and resources from civil authorities,” who, according to the statement, did not respond until five days after the storm.

That’s disputed by New Orleans Health Director, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, who says the city has no role in overseeing operations at privately-owned senior living centers.

But Dr. Avegno says the Health Department formed a “strike team” to investigate concerns about those facilities from some of the residents and their family members. Avegno says the strike team, which includes NOPD officers and EMS workers, has since gone inside more than two dozen facilities, making sure the residents are alright.

Avegno says the “deplorable conditions” in some of the facilities– and the discovery of five deaths– is “really heartbreaking.”

“We don’t want any residents to suffer,” she says, “if we can do anything about it.”

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