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Louisiana Nursing Home Owner Faces Cruelty Charges in Deadly Hurricane Evacuation

The proprietor of seven nursing houses in Louisiana who despatched greater than 800 residents to a squalid warehouse missing restrooms and correct medication final yr when Hurricane Ida battered the area was arrested on Wednesday on state fraud and cruelty fees, the authorities mentioned.

The person, Bob Glynn Dean Jr., 68, was out of state when he ordered the evacuation of the nursing residence residents in Baton Rouge, La., on Aug. 26, 2021, telling workers members to maneuver everybody to a warehouse in Independence known as the Waterbury Facility, the place they braced for extreme climate, in line with an arrest affidavit.

There, nursing residence residents have been subjected to overcrowding, the odor of urine and feces, piles of trash moreover puddles of water and insufficient meals parts, the affidavit states. Seven individuals from the nursing houses died, in line with the Louisiana Division of Well being, which revoked the licenses of Mr. Dean’s seven facilities to operate as nursing homes. Because the authorities tried to be taught what occurred, Mr. Dean refused to cooperate and ordered that his workers do the identical, in line with an arrest warrant.

Mr. Dean, who in Could was prohibited by the Division of Well being and Human Companies from collaborating in federal well being care packages, was charged on Wednesday with eight counts of cruelty to individuals with infirmities, 5 counts of Medicaid fraud and two counts of obstruction of justice, in line with the workplace of Lawyer Basic Jeff Landry of Louisiana. Cruelty to individuals with infirmities, essentially the most critical of the fees, carries a most penalty of 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fantastic.

Mr. Dean had “refused to maneuver his residents out of the warehouse following Hurricane Ida, billed Medicaid for dates his residents weren’t receiving correct care and engaged in conduct meant to intimidate or hinder public well being officers and regulation enforcement,” Mr. Landry’s workplace mentioned in a statement.

John McLindon, Mr. Dean’s lawyer, mentioned by telephone on Wednesday that his shopper, who was set to be launched on a $350,000 bond, “desperately tried to get again to Louisiana” to assist as Hurricane Ida approached.

“I’m simply unsure how they’ll cost him with cruelty to the infirm when he’s not even there,” he mentioned. He added that Mr. Dean’s psychological well being had been in decline.

The costs got here practically 10 months after Hurricane Ida walloped the state, making landfall as an intense Category 4 storm that left the ability grid in shambles and hundreds of thousands with out energy for days, together with in New Orleans.

By Aug. 28, a day earlier than the storm’s landfall, a lot of the 827 nursing residence residents within the seven nursing houses had been evacuated to the Waterbury Facility and divided amongst its three primary buildings, in line with an affidavit.

Longtime residents told The New York Times last year that the warehouse had as soon as been used as a stocking manufacturing unit and later was used to fabricate aerosol cans earlier than largely going darkish, although they mentioned it was nonetheless generally used to retailer emergency provides.

Mr. Dean ordered the residents within the steel constructing to maneuver into the concrete one as a result of he deemed it extra protected, and residents in a constructing manufactured from cinder block have been later requested to do the identical, in line with the affidavit.

“This switch of sufferers resulted in extraordinarily overcrowded situations within the bigger concrete constructing, which considerably impacted the care that the workers was capable of present to the residents,” the affidavit states.

Waterbury quickly misplaced energy, and its emergency generator went out intermittently, which additional negatively affected workers and residents, the affidavit states. On Aug. 30, the Louisiana Division of Well being despatched inspectors to the warehouse.

They noticed individuals overcrowded on mattresses that have been positioned too shut collectively, residents “in varied levels of undress,” together with some in T-shirts and dirty diapers or fully bare, and a kitchen space that was subsequent to the transportable bathrooms within the constructing, which had one inch of water in it, the affidavit states.

Inspectors additionally reported “points with an infection management, piles of soiled linens and trash and neglect of residents and workers,” in line with the affidavit.

A Louisiana Division of Well being inspector tried to name Mr. Dean on Aug. 30 to debate the deteriorating situations, however he replied, in profanity-laden texts, that he didn’t need to speak with them.

When the inspector obtained the vulgar texts, she replied: “Hey Mr. Dean, did you plan to ship these messages to another person?”

“No I didn’t,” Mr. Dean mentioned, utilizing expletives later within the textual content. He added: “Do you notice you’re in a conspiracy concept with the federal authorities.”

A day later, extra inspectors went to the warehouse and noticed extra proof of worsening situations.

One employee with the Louisiana Division of Well being who was contained in the warehouse mentioned nursing residence workers members have been operating round “like chickens with their heads lower off making an attempt to handle these individuals,” the affidavit states.

The residents weren’t cleaned correctly, given small parts of meals and never supplied meals choices that had been medically required, akin to a diabetic meal, the affidavit states.

Mr. Dean, the authorities mentioned, ordered his workers to not transfer residents to alternate shelters “for concern of dropping the residents to different amenities.”

Mr. Dean had steered final yr in an interview with WAFB in Baton Rouge that the variety of deaths was not atypical.

“We solely had 5 deaths throughout the six days, and usually with 850 individuals you’ll have a pair a day,” he mentioned. “So we did actually good with taking good care of individuals.”

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