Nursing home advocates and experts question whether payments for possible use of the site were part of a structure aimed at hiding profits from government oversight.
INDEPENDENCE, La. — More residents and workers who spent three-plus days inside a nursing home evacuation warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish for Hurricane Ida describe horrific conditions in a bare-bones facility, yet records show the nursing homes had been paying tens of thousands for use of the site for several years.
Evacuation plans and Medicare cost data indicate the homes paid thousands of dollars for a facility that relied on camping stoves and portable toilets that were lined up in the gymnasium-like warehouse, separated from residents’ air mattresses on the floor by a moveable curtain.
Nursing home advocates and experts question whether the payments for the possible use of the site were part of a corporate structure aimed at hiding profits from government oversight.
But an attorney for Bob Dean Jr., the owner of the nursing homes and the warehouse, denies any motivation for the payments beyond cost sharing for the expense of the warehouse.
Problems nearly from the start
“We knew from the time we walked up in there that this was going to be tragic,” said a worker for one of the nursing homes who asked not to be identified.
The hurricane tore a path straight for Tangipahoa Parish, straight for the three-building warehouse complex holding 843 residents. The owner of the nursing homes and the warehouse, Bob Dean Jr., decided to move the residents into two of the buildings on site because the third had metal walls and he said he feared it would not withstand Ida’s ferocious winds.
But hurricane event summaries written by Dean’s nursing home administrators indicate a second building started to flood as the rainwater poured down, so all the residents were put into the main warehouse building air mattress-to-air mattress.
An evacuation center that should have been a safe haven for the residents was anything but, the worker said.
They decided to tell their story after weeks of sleepless nights about the conditions at the warehouse.
“All this was weighing on my heart that these patients suffer. They suffered,” the worker said.
Never-before-seen videos taken inside the warehouse shed more light on the conditions. At 1:25 a.m. on August 30, the power is out for more than thirty minutes when the generator failed. The worker said the same thing happened three or four more times.
In the early hours of the morning, more than a dozen residents can be seen in wheelchairs with others trying to sleep in folding chairs. Air mattresses fill the …….