Rick Scott Ignores Calls For Help, Deletes Critical Evidence In Investigation

September 25, 2017

Fort Lauderdale, FL – In response to revelations that Governor Rick Scott ignored numerous calls for help and deleted multiple voicemails from a South Florida nursing home where eleven patients died in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, For Florida’s Future issued the following statement:

“While Governor Scott was ignoring emergency post-Irma calls from a nursing home, 11 seniors lost their lives. And if Scott’s lack of urgency were not enough, his record of weakening protections in the nursing home industry may be shown to have had deadly consequences. What Florida needs from its Governor now is a serious effort to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. That means taking responsibility, being fully transparent with investigators on how and why this happened, and figuring out what new oversight and protections need to be put in place right away for our most vulnerable citizens under nursing care,” said Blake Williams,Communications Director with For Florida’s Future. “When Floridians call for help, we need a governor who will pick up the phone. There is no more important responsibility for a Governor than protecting citizens, and Rick Scott failed these senior citizens and their families.”

BACKGROUND: Scott Ignore Numerous Calls For Help. Then, After Being Asked By Investigators To Produce The Voicemails, Says They’ve Been Deleted

  • CBS Miami: Nursing Home Execs Called Gov. Rick Scott’s Cell Asking For Help Getting Power Back: “In the 36 hours prior to the first patient dying at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, nursing home executives called Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s cell phone asking for help getting their power back on after Hurricane Irma, CBS4 News has learned…On Sunday, at 3:49 p.m., administrators contacted Florida Power and Light with an emergency request to restore power. According to nursing home officials, FPL said they would have crews dispatched the next morning.  By Monday evening, after repeated calls to FPL, a senior official with the nursing home, Natasha Anderson, called the cell phone number provided by Scott…Tuesday, however, saw no change. Repeated phone calls to FPL brought more promises that went unmet from the utility to come out and repair the power line, according to nursing home officials. Growing concerned, Anderson placed two more calls to what she believed was the Governor’s cell phone – one call at 9:59 a.m. and another at 12:41 p.m.

  • New York Times: Pleas for Help at Florida Nursing Home Where Heat Took Lives: “Natasha Anderson, the chief executive of Larkin Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services, which shares a building with the nursing home, said she had called Gov. Rick Scott’s cellphone on Monday evening and left a voicemail message about the air-conditioning issue at the home. ‘I said it was urgent,’ she said, adding that she had not been able to speak to Mr. Scott.”

  • CBS Miami: Nursing Home Voicemail to Governor Deleted: “The voicemail messages left on Gov. Rick Scott’s personal cellphone by a Hollywood nursing home where at least 11 people have died following Hurricane Irma, were deleted, according to the governor’s office….[A] vice president with The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills says she called the governor’s cellphone to say the nursing home needed “immediate assistance” in restoring the power to their air conditioning system.”

Rick Scott Weakened Regulations And Protections At Nursing Homes For Years

  • Miami Herald: Nursing homes used to Florida regulators’ soft touch scramble to meet a hard deadline: “It’s an about-face for most of the senior care industry and for the governor. Since Scott took office in 2011, he has significantly rolled back oversight of the powerful industry that represents more than 73,000 seniors in 683 certified nursing homes, and tens of thousands of others in 3,109 assisted living facilities and memory care centers across the state.  Just weeks into his first term, Scott ousted the state’s lead elder-affairs watchdog, Brian Lee, who had served under Govs. Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, thereby undercutting the effectiveness of the ombudsman office. There have been five successors since Lee was removed.  Scott then moved quickly to sign into law legislation that rolled back safety protections for nursing home patients and reduced the number of hours of direct care patients received at nursing homes. He also cut in half inspections at some specialty care ALFs that serve the frailest patients.  He approved laws that give greater immunity from lawsuits to owners of ALFs and nursing homes and shifted the management of Medicaid long-term care from the state to for-profit providers.”


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