Report: Florida governor refutes claims he ignored nursing home calls for help

Report: Florida governor refutes claims he ignored nursing home calls for help
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Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is refuting claims that calls for help by a Florida nursing facility to a special hotline were ignored in the hours before the first of eight deaths at the facility during the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Workers at the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills said they called a number provided by Scott's administration for health care executives who needed help.

According to CBS Miami, nursing home officials called the number three times in the 36 hours before the first person died Wednesday. The facility lost air conditioning due to Hurricane Irma.


Eight people died in the nursing home after it lost power in the wake of the storm.  

“Every call made to the governor from facility management was referred to the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health and quickly returned,” Scott’s spokesman said in a statement to the CBS affiliate.

Scott said the state had multiple points of contact with the facility before Wednesday’s deaths. He said at no time did the facility communicate any imminent threats to its patients.

The deaths are now the subject of a criminal investigation. The Scott administration also terminated the facility’s contract with Medicaid, meaning it will no longer receive federal Medicaid funding.

The Florida Department of Health laid blame for the incident squarely on the nursing home.

“Let’s be clear – this facility is located across the street from one of Florida’s largest hospitals, which never lost power and had fully operating facilities,” DOH spokeswoman Mara Gambineri said in a statement to CBS. “It is 100 percent the responsibility of health care professionals to preserve life by acting in the best interest of the health and well-being of their patients.”

In 2016, Scott faced criticism from watchdog groups for dismissing the state's long-term-care ombudsman.