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UPDATE 9/4/2021: On Saturday, September 4, the Louisiana Department of Health updated the community on two additional deaths of nursing home residents. This brings the death toll of nursing home residents evacuated to this facility to 6.

Louisiana Department of Health

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, these 2 additional deaths among nursing home residents have not been classified as storm-related.

TANGIPAHOA PARISH, La. (WGNO) — An investigation is underway in southern Louisiana after four nursing home residents died after being evacuated prior to Hurricane Ida.

On Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported that the residents were transported to a facility in Independence prior to Sunday’s catastrophic storm.

LDH reports that after Hurricane Ida made landfall, reports were made concerning deteriorating conditions at the facility. Investigators visited the site on Tuesday but were expelled from the property, preventing them from conducting a full assessment of the facility.

While three of the deaths have been determined to be storm-related, definitive causes of death have not yet been determined.

The health department says it has significant concerns about the facility.

In regards to the investigation, Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller issued the following statement:

“This is very upsetting news. As soon as the Town of Independence notified  our office, we reached out to the facility in question and notified all the appropriate state agencies. We have provided every resource that we could to alleviate and reduce this catastrophe. Our hearts are breaking for the families impacted by this avoidable tragedy.”

While later in the day, Governor John Bel Edwards also delivered comments on the investigation.

“I also grieved today about the situation that happened in Independence, in Tangipahoa Parish, with some of our most vulnerable citizens in the State of Louisiana. I have been notified of four deaths among the nursing home residents who have been evacuated to a facility on Friday here in Tangipahoa Parish ahead of the hurricane. Three of those deaths were classified as storm-related by the coroner. And they involved a 59-year-old female from Harvey, a 52-year-old male from Orleans Parish, and a 77-year-old male from Houma.”

The AARP also issued a statement on the nursing home deaths. AARP Louisiana State Director Denise Bottcher commented on the investigation, saying:

“AARP Louisiana is calling on state and federal authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the warehousing of vulnerable, medically fragile adults and seniors during Hurricane Ida. Nursing homes have a duty to care for their residents, which includes planning for emergencies and evacuations. These tragic deaths are the result of a complete failure of oversight, enforcement, and planning dating back more than a decade.

Nursing homes need stricter standards and more accountability. AARP Louisiana calls on state leaders to reform the broken long-term care system. Instead of spending billions on bleak, sub-par but expensive nursing homes, we should focus efforts on helping more seniors live in their own homes with support.

It’s a privilege to hold a nursing home license. It’s time to take it away from the facilities involved in this tragedy.”

AARP Louisiana State Director Denise Bottcher, September 3, 2021

Efforts are being made to find safe arrangements for more than 800 nursing home patients affected by Hurricane Ida. Residents were evacuated from the following nursing home facilities in southern Louisiana:

  • River Palms Nursing and Rehab, Orleans Parish
  • South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab, Lafourche Parish
  • Maison Orleans Healthcare Center, Orleans Parish
  • Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home, Jefferson Parish
  • West Jefferson Health Care Center, Jefferson Parish
  • Maison DeVille Nursing Home, Terrebonne Parish
  • Maison DeVille Nursing Home of Harvey, Jefferson Parish

LDH reports that unless under a mandatory evacuation order, nursing homes make the decision when and where to evacuate. In less than 24 hours, 721 residents had been rescued from the Tangipahoa Parish facility, including 12 people who required hospitalization.

Efforts are underway to relocate the remaining patients.

The health department assures the public that action will be taken against the nursing home facility.