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Scott Faces “Backlash” Over Nursing Home Scandal, Named “Loser Of The Week”

Rick Scott was named “loser of the week” by the Tampa Bay Times and is facing a “backlash” as his nursing home scandal continues to escalate following revelations that voicemails on his cell phone from the nursing home requesting assistance before the tragic death of 11 seniors were deleted.

Details about Scott’s scandal, his record of slashing protections for Florida’s seniors and how Scott’s explanation is contradicted by state reports are continuing to emerge. Here’s what we know so far:

  • Scott was contacted on his cell phone four times by the nursing home in the hours before the deaths, and failed to provide a response. His hotline was also contacted by other nursing homes across the state, who revealed they also failed to receive timely assistance.
  • The Miami Herald detailed Scott’s long record of slashing protections for seniors: ousting the state’s lead elder-affairs watchdog; signing legislation that “reduced” the direct care patients receive at nursing homes and cutting inspections; approving laws granting nursing homes greater immunity from lawsuits; and utilizing redaction software to shield from the public inspection reports critical of nursing homes, a move called “a favor to the industry by the Scott administration.”
  • The New York TImes reports how Scott’s claims that he was unaware of the situation at the nursing home are contradicted by state records that “show that a facility that shared the building reported that the conditions were ‘adversely affecting patients.’”
  • Editorials and columnists across the state are condemning Scott, writing: the events “could be Rick Scott’s Benghazi;” he’s “significantly rolled back oversight of the industry;” and under Scott “the state has routinely prevented Floridians from getting answers about problems at other nursing homes.”

See for yourself:

Tampa Bay Times: Rick Scott Is Loser Of The Week, “Scott’s Hurricane Leadership Under Scrutiny.” Loser of the week Rick Scott. His early performance as an on-the-ball disaster management governor took some hits amid scrutiny of his record. It’s tougher to position yourself as the model of storm readiness after you’ve eased off on Florida’s tough building standards, seen Florida’s deficit of special needs emergency shelter spots double under your watch and cut oversight of nursing homes in the years leading up to 10 patients dying during Irma.”

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.”

The Hill: Florida Governor Faces Backlash Over Nursing Home Voicemails Left During Hurricane“Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is facing criticism after his office revealed that four voicemails sent from a nursing home where eleven residents died in the aftermath Hurricane Irma were deleted.”

WFTS: Gov. Scott “Under Fire” For Deleting Nursing Home Voicemails.

New York Times: At Florida Nursing Home, Many Calls for Help, but None That Made a Difference“Gov. Rick Scott and other state and local officials say they never had any indication from Hollywood Hills that residents were in distress, though records show that a facility that shared the building reported that the conditions were ‘adversely affecting patients.’”

  • “The nursing home’s state-approved emergency plan was confounded by a foreseeable electrical failure. The home said its repeated requests for help from state and county officials, and to the power company, yielded no results.”

Washington Post: Florida governor’s office deleted critical messages related to post-hurricane nursing home deaths“‘Why not just keep it?’ Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, told the Miami Herald. ‘It’s bothersome to say the least.’”

Miami Herald: Florida hides details in nursing home inspection reports, but federal agencies don’t““There’s no rhyme or reason to it,’ Lee said. ‘They are are so indiscernible now, they’re almost useless. If the feds can put this same information on its web site, why can’t the state? It’s a favor to the industry by the Scott administration.’”

Tallahassee Democrat, Cotterell“The deaths in Broward County could be Rick Scott’s Benghazi. If he deserves credit for doing his job well, Scott also deserves blame – or at least some blame – for whatever went wrong.”

Miami Herald: Nursing homes used to Florida regulators’ soft touch scramble to meet a hard deadline“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.”
  • “And at the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), the agency that regulates senior care centers and is authoring the new generator rules, regulators last year spent $22,000 on redaction software to shield from the public critical words from inspection reports used by patient families to monitor the quality of their loved one’s care.

Florida Times Union, Littlepage: Scott learns that not all laws are “burdensome.” “Since Scott took office in 2011, he has significantly rolled back oversight of the industry. Scott: Ousted the state’s top elder-affairs watchdog who had served the two previous governors. Quickly signed into law legislation that reduced safety protections for nursing home patients and also reduced the number of hours of direct care the patients received. Approved legislation that gave the industry greater immunity from lawsuits. Also during Scott’s tenure it’s become more difficult for patients’ families to monitor the quality of care.”

Rolling Stone: Hurricane Irma: Gov. Rick Scott’s Superstorm. “Scott’s negligence was so extreme it was almost as if he were inviting a catastrophe.”

Miami Herald: Voicemails from nursing home where 11 died were deleted by governor’s office. “Voicemails left on Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s cellphone by employees of the Hollywood nursing home where 11 died in the post-Hurricane Irma heat have been deleted, according to the governor’s office…The calls would have provided critical evidence for what the nursing home told the governor’s office.”

Miami Herald: When elders are in peril, whom do you call — 911 or Rick Scott’s cell? “Scott, who wedged in the conference call amid a flurry of interviews with cable news anchors, gave out a private cell phone number to the caregivers. He said give us a call if you have a problem. Many did just that, including the Hollywood Hills nursing home…Not only did those calls fail to yield any substantive help, but they have resulted in sharp criticism from the governor’s office.”

  • “As the storm warnings reached a crescendo, anxious operators of senior homes phoned either the private cell or the toll-free hotline, which dispensed information, but offered little assistance for those reporting a mass emergency at a nursing home. Hours passed before some got a response, and some said they heard nothing back.”
  • “Emergency officials confirmed that the nursing home had a ‘ticket’ with Florida Power & Light to restore its power — but there is no indication that anything else was done.”
  • “After the storm, the calls to the governor were more dire: ‘flooding/power,’ ‘oxygen/power’ ‘evacuating.’ Not all got personalized attention. ‘We never heard back,’ said Luann Foos, executive director of the 245-acre Good Samaritan Society Kissimmee Village, a retirement community that operates a nursing home, ALFs and apartments.”
  • “Bongart, the east Manatee ALF operator whose call to the governor didn’t get her help, is upset…’I don’t think you’ll find many of us calling the governor’s hotline again,’ she said.”
  • “Each of these centers — no matter the location, the size, the crisis — had one thing in common: As required, they had prepared an emergency response plan, filed it with county emergency managers — and Senior’s agency had approved it.”

Fox News: Voicemails from nursing home where patients died deleted from Florida governor’s phone, report says. “The help-seeking voicemails from a nursing home where 11 people died during Hurricane Irma have been deleted from Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s cell phone, according to a report.”

Washington Examiner: Voicemails to Gov. Rick Scott from Florida nursing home where 11 died were deleted: Report.  “At least four voicemail messages left on Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s cellphone from the Hollywood nursing home where 11 died in wake of Hurricane Irma, were deleted, according to a report.”

Orlando Sentinel, Maxwell: Nursing home problems? Florida helps hide, censor them. Right now, Gov. Rick Scott and other Florida politicians demand answers about what went wrong in a recent deadly incident at a South Florida nursing home … which is kind of ironic, since the state has routinely prevented Floridians from getting answers about problems at other nursing homes and assisted-living facilities throughout the state. How? By censoring and redacting key details from reports that describe troubling incidents.”

Sun Sentinel Editorial: Continued denial leaves Florida in climate change crosshairs“In Florida, the state most susceptible to sea level rise as well as to hurricanes, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting found state employees are discouraged from using the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming.’ In a public meeting, one official refused to acknowledge the words when they were put directly to him…he consistently refuses to address global warming.”

Orlando Sentinel, Maxwell: 8 nursing-home deaths in Florida – a state that keeps weakening protections for the elderly“Gov. Rick Scott took things even further in 2011 when he took office — and quickly ousted the state’s lead elder-affairs watchdog.”

News-Herald Editorial: Protect residents of nursing homes.  “As the state works to nail down the details of the Hollywood Hills tragedy, it should also look at the bigger picture. The Hollywood Hills facility had a long and spotty history, including sub-par inspections, as reported by the Miami Herald. Yet the state’s most recent response was a fairly minimal fine of $5,500. Advocates like Carter have accused Gov. Rick Scott of dismantling much of Florida’s nursing-home regulation.”

Bay News 9: South Florida deaths propel calls for revision of state nursing home regulations“The Scott administration contends that, because AHCA wasn’t informed, there was nothing the agency could have done to intervene. The day before the deaths, however, the governor told reporters at the State Emergency Operations Center that officials were in close contact with each of Florida’s assisted living facilities.”

  • “‘State lawmakers on Thursday called for a criminal investigation, accompanied by a reversal of years of industry deregulation under Gov. Rick Scott and the legislature’s Republican leaders.”
  • “Some pointed to Scott’s 2011 ouster of Long-term Care Ombudsman Brian Lee – an official widely viewed as having been tough on the industry while standing up for the interests of patients – as the start of a relatively hands-off era of treatment of nursing homes by the Scott administration.”

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.”

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