• Baker patients say state is lying about heating problem

    By: Kaitlyn Chana , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Patients in a local hospital told Action News Jax the state is lying about their heating problem at Northeast Florida State Hospital.

    Patients at a Baker County mental health hospital told us on Monday there was no heat, despite freezing temperatures.

    As we enter a cold spell, patients inside the hospital said they can barely breathe because their rooms are so cold. Patients inside a specific ward said they’ve had no heat in their rooms for a week. 

    “It’s ridiculously cold. We are all bundled up like we’re in Antarctica. At night, we can see our breath,” said patient. 

    On Monday night, Action News Jax reached out to a DCF representative that sent an email stating, “The heat at Northeast Florida State Hospital is functioning and temperatures on the wards are ranging from 68 to 72 degrees.”

    We followed up again after staff members on three separate occasions confirmed there was a heating issue.

    On Tuesday, we received another email from DCF after we pushed the issue.

    It read, “to clarify, yesterday staff identified that a heat pump that heats the end rooms on that unit was performing poorly and maintenance staff resolved the issue last night. Residents in those areas were immediately given extra blankets to stay warm and comfortable. Technicians will be on site today to double check all units and ensure all units are functioning at maximum capacity.”

    But on Tuesday, patients said the heat issues aren’t fixed, instead some rooms are boiling hot while others are cold.

    “My room seems to be getting most of the heat. Unfortunately, its 85 degrees in there right now,” another patient said. 

    Our Action News Jax reporter Kaitlyn Chana went inside to meet one of the patients face-to-face. That person told her since her original report on Action News Jax Monday, the Agency for Health Care Administration investigated and said he along with his roommates will be moved to another area due to the temperature. 

    “People still after all that we have done aren’t taking this seriously,” said the patient. 

    When Action News Jax called the facility on Tuesday, a staff member told us they had goosebumps on Monday; meanwhile, they said it’s still chilly inside, but warmer than yesterday.

    Action News Jax brought this issue to Governor Rick Scott and he said he’ll try to help these patients. 

    “I'll look into it as quickly as I can,” said Governor Rick Scott. 

    Action News Jax did request an on-camera interview with administration, but received a response saying no one was available for an interview. They sent another email responding to our additional questions about how maintenance request are fulfilled, what’s the turnaround time, and inspections.

    Below is the response from a DCF representative:

    Statement: “Resident safety is our first priority and we work diligently and consistently to ensure the health, safety, and comfort of all those we serve at Northeast Florida State Hospital, as well as all state mental health treatment facilities. 

    Background: Maintenance staff are available 24/7, 365. Work orders for maintenance are entered into a work order system by unit supervisors and maintenance typically responds the same day. Before yesterday, the last work order for Building 58 was entered on December 12 regarding it being too warm. Again, yesterday staff identified that a heat pump that heats the end rooms on that unit was performing poorly and maintenance staff resolved the issue last night. Residents in those areas were immediately given extra blankets to stay warm and comfortable. 

    Units are inspected on a quarterly basis. 

    Outside technicians are on site now inspecting all units. Temperatures in the rooms that were affected by the heat pump performance last night were measured today and are between 65 and 70 degrees.”
     

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