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Elderly man suffers cardiac arrest after nurses forget him in heat

Posted at 1:00 PM, Aug 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-28 13:17:38-04

Naples, FL (WBBH) — A 90-year-old man is in critical condition after deputies say his nurses at Aristocrat Nursing off Immokalee Road forgot him outside in his wheelchair in the heat for nearly three hours.

By the time they found Robert Bernard late yesterday afternoon, he was unconscious.

A 911 audio recording shows a caller told a dispatcher he had a 105-degree temperature and said there were three other nurses with him trying to cool him down.

Since he was left outside and forgotten about, Bernard is barely alive.

Dispatch asked if he was in severe pain and the caller said no and that he was non-responsive.

The incident report says employees at Aristocrat wheeled him outside at 2 pm Wednesday. Three hours later, Aristocrat staff said they discovered their mistake.

Collier EMS Chief Walter Kopka says over-exposure to the sun and summer heat can do serious damage, fast.

“Certainly within an hour or so a person can get from heat cramps to heat stroke,” said Kopka.

The dispatcher asked if any special equipment would be necessary and the caller said that a stretcher would be.

Reports show Bernard was suffering from severe heat stroke, dehydration, and sunburn.

“The body actually shuts down and stores all that heat inside because it’s lost its ability to sweat,” said Kopka.

Paramedics rushed Bernard to NCH North, and Kopka said they spent 29 minutes trying to cool him down before doctors took over.

The efforts couldn’t stop him from going into cardiac arrest.

“It’s very difficult sometimes to regain that breathing and the heartbeat because the body has been heated for such a long period of time,” said Kopka.

Bernard survived that heart attack, but now he’s in critical condition in the intensive care unit, and Aristocrat is under investigation.

Both the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Children and Families are investigating.

DCF has investigated Aristocrat at least one time in the last decade.

Aristocrat administration declined to speak in person or by phone, and a message was left with their attorney.