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Eleven Of 19 New Orleans Facilities Cleared Of Post-Katrina Wrongdoing

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

BATON ROUGE, LA--Of the roughly 1,600 confirmed dead in the Gulf Coast region during and after Hurricane Katrina, an estimated 215 died in New Orleans-area nursing homes and hospitals. Most of those had disabilities or serious medical conditions.

Last month, the office of Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti announced that it had cleared of criminal wrongdoing eight of the 13 nursing homes and three of six hospitals it investigated related to those deaths.

Foti's office did not release the names of the facilities that were under investigation.

It is widely known, however, that the list of those not yet cleared includes New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center, where investigators are still following up on allegations that hospital staff killed some patients following the storm, and St. Rita's Nursing Home, where owners Salvador and Mable Mangano have been charged with negligent homicide in the drowning deaths of 34 residents.

The Manganos have been accused of failing to evacuate the residents, most of whom died in wheelchairs or their beds.

James A. Cobb, an attorney for the Manganos, told the Times-Picayune that state officials who failed to follow their written policies are also to blame.

"When you put decision-makers in the middle of what our esteemed governor calls an 'unprecedented natural disaster' and they have to make decisions, they make a right decision or a wrong decision," Cobb said. "But right or wrong, you don't put them in jail for the decision they make."

According to the Times-Picayune, only 14 of 27 New Orleans nursing homes that were closed following Katrina have reopened.

"Homes' evacuation plans failed" (Times-Picayune)

Katrina deaths: 11 health institutions cleared, probe continues (Louisiana Weekly)

Opinion: "Readiness plan for nursing homes a critical issue" (Lafayette Advertiser)

"People With Disabilities Among Hardest Hit By Hurricanes Katrina & Rita" (Inclusion Daily Express)

LifeCare, lifeboats, murder -- and the Carlyle Group (Edge-Centric blog)

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