Seven nursing homes that evacuated their residents to a warehouse in Independence have been shut down by the Louisiana Department of Health.

Those nursing homes, all owned by New Orleans businessman Bob Dean, sent their residents to stay in that warehouse before Hurricane Ida made landfall. Since then, seven of their residents have died. Five of those deaths have been classified as storm-related.

An LDH inspector went to the site last Tuesday after the agency received complaints about the conditions in which the nursing homes' residents were living. That inspector was kicked off the property. LDH ordered the warehouse closed on Wednesday and began moving the nursing home patients to other facilities. All of the patients were moved by the end of the day Thursday.

LDH also accuses Dean of intimidating its employees. LDH has not said if it will pursue criminal charges against Dean over those allegations.

Despite being kicked off the property, LDH officials found conditions they say warranted the closures.

"During these site visits, LDH personnel observed conditions that have caused great concern to the State Health Officer that he reasonably believes may cause a danger to public life, health, and safety," wrote Dr. Joseph Kanter, the state health officer, in his order closing the seven nursing homes. "Further, as State Health Officer, some of the conditions of which he is now aware make him concerned about the possible spread of infectious disease."

“What happened in Independence is reprehensible, and I know there are many families hurting as a result,” LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney Phillips said in a press release. “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.”

“The lack of regard for these vulnerable residents' wellbeing is an affront to human dignity," Kanter said in the same press release. "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."

The seven nursing homes that have been ordered to close are River Palms Nursing and Rehab, Orleans Parish; South Lafourche Nursing and Rehab, Lafourche Parish; Maison Orleans Healthcare Center, Orleans Parish; Park Place Healthcare Nursing Home, Jefferson Parish; West Jefferson Health Care Center, Jefferson Parish; Maison DeVille Nursing Home, Terrebonne Parish; and Maison DeVille Nursing Home of Harvey, Jefferson Parish.

Anyone who has a relative living in one of those facilities and seeking to find their loved one may call 211 to be put in touch with LDH officials working to reunite patients with their families.

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