Voorhees Care and Rehabilitation Center lost its air conditioning on a hot summer day.  While temperatures rose throughout the day placing residents and caregivers, management refused to do anything about the dangerous and oppressive heat.  A worker said many of the lights in the building were off to try to keep the place cool. Nursing home facilities in New Jersey are required to establish a written heat emergency action plan which mandates the procedures to be followed if the indoor air temperature is 82 degrees or higher for a continuous period of four hours or longer, officials said.

Finally, a visitor was so concerned about the community, the police were called as the heat wave sent temperatures outside to triple digits.  Dozens of first responders began arriving to help evacuate more than 100 residents out of the facility.

Nursing home owners and operators declined to say why they did not alert anyone to the crisis, or what went wrong with their air conditioning system.

The nursing home is rated at the bottom for its quality of care, ranked “much below average,” according to the most recent report by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That report in April 2018 concluded the facility had failed to maintain a clean and sanitary environment that was in good repair.  According to state health officials, the department was never notified by the facility about the deteriorating conditions, and was not involved in the evacuation.

Inside the facility’s lobby, though, it still felt muggy in the early afternoon. A portable air conditioning unit sat on the floor near the entrance, an exhaust tube snaking into the ceiling.

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