After eight South Florida nursing home residents died when Hurricane Irma knocked out their power, Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday directed the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to block the facility from receiving Medicaid payments.

Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said investigators believe the deaths at Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were heat-related, adding that a criminal investigation is underway.

The chief said authorities have not ruled anything out in the deaths, including carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.

“This facility was responsible to provide their patients a safe environment and they failed to do so,” Scott’s office said in a statement. “The state has had multiple points of contact with this facility prior to the tragedy, and at no time did the facility communicate any imminent threats to their patients’ life or safety.”

The home “is currently undergoing a criminal investigation from the local authorities, and open investigations from both AHCA and DCF (Department of Children and Families).  It is clear that this facility cannot be responsible for Florida’s vulnerable patients, and therefore the state will stop them from providing care.”

All of the center’s patients and residents have been evacuated, the release said.

The Associated Press contributed to this post, republished with permission. 

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