Louisiana orders 7 nursing homes shuttered after Ida-related patient transfers, deaths

As of late Saturday, seven patients had died, with five of the deaths determined to be related to Hurricane Ida

Seven nursing homes in Louisiana have been ordered shuttered by the state Department of Health, according to a series of Twitter messages that the department posted Saturday night.

The facilities being closed had transferred a total of more than 800 patients to a single warehouse facility in Independence, Louisiana, on Aug. 27, two days before Hurricane Ida made landfall in the region. 

Several patients eventually died at the Independence warehouse amid conditions that families complained were inadequate for patient care – including flooding in the building and patients allegedly not being fed.

As of late Saturday, seven of the patients had died, with five of the deaths determined to be related to the hurricane, a health department statement said.

The closures of the nursing homes were to take effect immediately, according to the order, which was issued by Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state’s health director. The facilities would remain closed "pending further regulatory action," one Health Department message said.


"What happened in Independence is reprehensible, and I know there are many families hurting as a result," said Dr. Courtney Phillips, secretary of the health department, in a statement. "Today’s action against these facilities is needed. There is more to come. Our Department’s mission is to advance the health and wellbeing of our residents – and that includes our vulnerable nursing home residents."

Added Kanter: "The lack of regard for these vulnerable residents’ wellbeing is an affront to human dignity. We have lost trust in these nursing homes to provide adequate care for their residents. We are taking immediate action today to protect public health."

According to the health department, state inspectors tried to visit the warehouse Tuesday (Aug. 31) after receiving complaints but the inspectors were "expelled" from the property and unable to complete their inspection. 


Health department staff was also subjected to "intimidation" by the owner of the seven nursing homes, the department claimed in its statement. That owner was identified as Baton Rouge businessman Bob Dean, health department spokeswoman Aly Neel said Thursday.

Paramedics evacuate people at a mass shelter Thursday, Sep.t 2, 2021, in Independence, Louisiana. (Associated Press)

In an interview last week with WAFB-TV of Baton Rouge, Dean defended the evacuation of the 800-plus patients, The Associated Press reported.

"We only had five deaths within six days, and normally with 850 people you’ll have a couple a day, so we did really good with taking care of people," Dean told the station.

"We only had five deaths within six days, and normally with 850 people you’ll have a couple a day, so we did really good with taking care of people." 

- Bob Dean, owner of Louisiana nursing homes

On Wednesday, the health department, in coordination with other government agencies and local officials, conducted an evacuation of all patients from the warehouse in an operation that was completed Thursday, the health department statement said.


Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards last week promised a "full investigation" into the relocation of the patients to the warehouse, which authorities said was owned by The Waterbury Companies Inc.

The seven shuttered nursing homes included three in Jefferson Parish, two in Orleans Parish and one each in Lafourche Parish and Terrebonne Parish, the health department’s statement said.

In a Twitter message posted Saturday, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry called upon anyone with information about the treatment of the patients to call a hotline number at 1-888-799-6885. He said all callers could remain anonymous.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.