US & Canada

Irma: Florida nursing home loses Medicaid funding

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Media captionFlorida nursing home survivors evacuated

A Florida nursing home where eight people died after Hurricane Irma left the facility without power has had its Medicaid healthcare funding suspended.

Over 100 people were evacuated from the Hollywood Hills facility on Wednesday after days without air conditioning.

Medical staff from a nearby hospital said that residents were suffering from dehydration and breathing difficulties.

The Medicaid programme - for the poor, elderly and disabled - has been cut with immediate effect, officials said.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said on Thursday that he had directed the state's Agency for Health Care Administration to end the provision of Medicaid at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills facility.

Rescue teams and medical staff who helped evacuate residents from the nursing home this week said that the building was extremely hot, with staff trying to lower temperatures with portable fans.

Temperatures on Tuesday in the city of Hollywood reached 32C (90F), according to the National Weather Service.

The building has since been cordoned off and police and state investigators have opened a criminal investigation into the deaths of residents, whose ages range from 71 to 99.

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Image caption A criminal investigation is under way into the deaths of residents at the home

The nursing home has had brushes with the regulators in recent years for violating federal rules on its power system, a generator and because of a faulty alarm, according to records.

The Florida Health Care Association called Wednesday's deaths a "profound tragedy within the larger tragedy of Hurricane Irma".

The storm - which has claimed more than two dozen lives in the US - struck southwestern Florida on Sunday morning as a category four hurricane before weakening to a tropical depression on Monday.

Millions of people are still without power in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

The number of deaths attributed to Irma, the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade, has continued to rise.

Last week, the storm killed at least 37 people in Caribbean islands, including the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba, St Martin and St Barthelemy, Barbuda, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands.

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