Ahmad Ordu searched for his father for two and a half months after his father disappeared following a botched evacuation of the nursing home in southern Louisiana during Hurricane Ida.
When a social worker called Ordu and told him she was looking for her father’s next of kin and found him on Facebook, Ordu feared the worst.
“I thought it was too late,” Ahmad Ordu, 26, told the Daily Advertiser. “I didn’t know what I was going to walk into.”
It turns out that Ahmad was eventually able to find his father alive, but the son believes the damage caused during and after the evacuation led to his father’s untimely death a few months later.
In August, Samuel Ordu was evacuated with more than 800 residents from seven retirement homes owned by Bob Dean Jr. to a warehouse in Independence to weather Hurricane Ida.
But the warehouse was ill-equipped for the number of people being transported there, and there weren’t enough staff to care for the residents, according to one of several lawsuits filed against Dean.
Residents “endured horrific and inhumane conditions,” according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
Agency officials made several visits to the site, but Dean yelled and swore at them, ordering them to leave the property. They returned with law enforcement officials and evicted the residents.
The Seven Rest Houses have since closed and their licenses were revoked. Dean is facing multiple charges of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, including cruelty to the infirm and Medicaid fraud.
At least 15 people have died after being held in the makeshift facility for days, the Associated Press reported.
About Dean’s arrest:Louisiana Attorney General Arrests Nursing Home Owner
An entrepreneur in New Orleans
Samuel Ordu, of Nigerian origin, had an infatuation with the United States and an ambition to emigrate, which earned him the nickname “America” among his friends and family.
He immigrated to the United States in 1982, enrolling at Southern University, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree.
It was there that he met his wife, Stéphanie Green Ordu. The two were married on Christmas Day in 1986.
They had two children, Ahmad and Niara. Ahmad remembers his father, who almost always wore a suit, as a man of action and not very talkative, with a booming voice and a presence that filled the whole house.
As a contractor, Ordu struggled to convince employers to look beyond his heavy accent, so he began delivering newspapers as a contractor for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. But after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, he lost his delivery business.
Over the next three years, he suffered a series of strokes and was diagnosed with vascular dementia. It was not a rapid decline, Ahmad Ordu said. It was more like a staircase, sometimes descending or ascending in capacity and sometimes reaching a plateau.
But in 2018, Samuel Ordu needed round-the-clock care that his family could not provide. He was placed in the River Palms nursing home in New Orleans.
“The whole time he was in a nursing home, it was always a bit bad,” his son said. like that. It was part of his condition.
Things improved after Ahmad Ordu returned from a military deployment abroad and he came to see his father.
Research by Samuel Ordu
As southern Louisiana prepared for Hurricane Ida last August, Ahmad Ordu was working in Denver. His mother had evacuated to Dallas with the rest of the Ordu family, although Samuel Ordu remained in the custody of Bob Dean’s River Palms facility.
Looking back, Ahmad Ordu said he could have taken his father with him, but doesn’t recall that ever being an option.
Ida made landfall as a strong Category 4 storm on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the same storm that robbed Samuel Ordu of his thriving business.
It caused extensive damage, flooding and power cuts.
At the Independence warehouse where Samuel Ordu was stuck during the storm, residents called for food, water and medicine and demanded to be rid of the soiled laundry only to have their cries go unanswered, according to a trial.
The generators that powered the oxygen concentrators were not working, and at one point a Louisiana Department of Health investigator noted that the site lacked adequate ventilation.
Ahmad Ordu received a phone call from his sponsor who had seen Samuel Ordu on television during the warehouse evacuation. The only son flew from Denver to Houston and drove the rest of the way to New Orleans. He went to the warehouse and the nursing home, but he couldn’t find his father.
The family searched for Samuel Ordu for two and a half months before Ahmad Ordu received a call from the social worker at a facility in Minden, nearly seven hours from Samuel Ordu’s family.
Ahmad Ordu was later told by his lawyers that River Palms kept paper files on its residents. These files never belonged to Samuel Ordu, his son said.
“If you didn’t even have my number and I was his primary contact for everything, how sure would you be giving him the right medications and knowing his treatment plan?” he said.
When he arrived at Minden retirement home, Ordu found his father – the man who had paved the way for his family in a new country and instilled in him an entrepreneurial spirit – bewildered and asked if he had eaten.
“When I went there, it was like a chess match with death,” said Ahmad Ordu.
Louisiana Retirement Home:Who is responsible for Louisiana’s nursing home evacuation plans? Officials won’t say.
‘I told them I had been kidnapped’:Evacuees from nursing home call 911 for lack of care and food
The death of Samuel Ordu
Ordu decided that he would take care of his father and bring him back to the son’s house in New Orleans.
He recalled telling his father to “look alive” for a family reunion in February, weeks after the search for the ailing patriarch was completed.
“He held on, and most of the family saw him, distant relatives and everything. He was able to shake their hands,” Ordu said. “It provided a lot of closure. Mainly for me, but even for the family later.
But soon after, Samuel Ordu started showing signs of stroke. His son took him to the hospital.
“It was like the day before Mardi Gras, the whole city was getting ready to march and I was in the hospital,” Ahmad Ordu said.
“I took him there and he didn’t come out.”
Ahmad Ordu read all he could about his father’s condition. He asked three different medical teams to perform surgery, but Samuel Ordu suffered from heart failure and the doctors said it was too dangerous.
Eventually, Ordu’s sister, Niara, came to the hospital with her three children, ages 9, 5 and 1.
“I had to push my niece aside before she entered the room, and I had to explain her death for the first time,” Ahmad Ordu said. “They were close to him. He was a good grandfather. »
Samuel Ordu died on April 14 at the age of 66. His son said that although Ordu suffered from dementia, elder abuse and medical neglect at the warehouse led to his untimely death.
Ahmad Ordu has joined a class action lawsuit against Dean. He said he made the decision to join his nieces and nephew, as well as his mother, whose grief caused her own health to decline.
“For me, there was a bigger conversation because it’s elder abuse, it’s medical malpractice and it’s wrongful death,” Ordu said. “Compensation-wise, you’re not going to bring him back.”