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New Details Surface In Hurricane Katrina Nursing Home Deaths
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 30, 2005

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA--Details are beginning to emerge about what happened at New Orleans nursing homes during and after Hurricane Katrina, along with the choices the operators of one nursing home made regarding the safety of their residents.

According to the Houston Chronicle, at least 139 nursing home residents died from the storm. In Louisiana, nursing home residents accounted for about 10 percent of the total deaths.

Most died during the days after the hurricane, as water levels and temperatures climbed, and much needed electricity and medication were nonexistent.

The owners of St. Rita's Nursing Home, Sal and Mabel Mangano, have been charged with 34 counts of negligent homicide for the residents and others who perished from the storm. Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti is investigating claims that the couple not only failed to secure transportation for the residents, but also turned back offers to move the residents out of harm's way.

Monday's USA Today reported that the Manganos, St. Rita's staff, some patients' families and others dispute those claims, including the allegations that the couple abandoned the facility, and that they strapped some residents to their beds or wheelchairs before leaving them to the rising waters.

According to several witnesses, the Manganos stayed throughout the ordeal, and even called on family members to come to the facility. St. Bernard Parish coroner Bryan Bertucci said that none of the bodies recovered from St. Rita's were strapped down.

Some of the victims' family members, however, have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the couple for, among other things, failing to follow the facility's own written evacuation plan, and failing to inform relatives of their choice to wait out the storm along with the residents at the nursing home.

Investigators are also trying to learn why just one-third of New Orleans' nursing facilities were evacuated before Katrina struck on August 29.

"Katrina's toll on the sick, elderly emerges" (Houston Chronicle)
"What really happened at St. Rita's?" (USA Today)

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