Florida Governor Rick Scott deleted voicemails from his personal cell phone from a nursing home where 12 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
The calls were made 36-hours before the person is reported to have died according to CBS Miami .
September 22, 2017
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. There were a total of four voicemails left during the 36 hours before the first patient died, and they would have been a critical piece of evidence in the ongoing investigation into the patient deaths.
Scott said at no time did anyone from the nursing home suggest there was a crisis or that patients were in danger.In response to CBS4’s request for copies of the voicemails, a spokeswoman with the governor’s office, wrote in an email: “The voicemails were not retained because the information from each voicemail was collected by the Governor’s staff and given to the proper agency for handling.”
In the week leading up to Irma, Gov. Scott held a series of conference calls with emergency managers as well as hospital and nursing home officials. During those conference calls he gave out his cellphone number and said if any of the healthcare centers experienced trouble they should call him at that number and he would work to resolve their problem.
September 22, 2017 Summary:
- 36 hours before the first patient died, a Florida nursing home left four voicemails on Florida Gov. Rick Scott's personal cell-phone allegedly asking for help.
- Scott deleted all four voicemails. At least 11 people in total have died at the nursing home.
- Scott denies anyone asked him for help.
Here is an Update: March 27, 2018
In January 2018, former U.S. Rep. and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham sued for the records relating to the deaths at the nursing home. After a payment of $1200, she received them.
In total, 12 people died at the Rehabilitation Center nursing home in Hollywood, Florida. Local law enforcement classified those deaths as 'homicide's. [Initial reports said that at least 11 people died at the Rehabilitation center]
Graham alleges the records have blown the lid on a coverup for Scott’s failure to act.
One of the facilities calling Scott’s cell phone was the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, where 12 people died after the facility lost power and air conditioning and became overheated. According to records, the nursing home attempted to contact Scott on his cell phone three times between Sept. 11 and Sept. 12 before finally evacuating on Sept. 13. Staff at the governor’s office has repeatedly said they informed the home to call 911 if necessary, but the center never did.
Graham said the report indicated “complete incompetence and neglect” of the Scott administration, criticizing the governor’s handling of the tragedy.
"We have had to fight tooth and nail for these public records and now we know why Rick Scott fought so hard to keep them secret,” she said. “They have exposed how the governor's office botched the response — but we still do not have the actual voicemails that were left and I will continue fighting for them until they are made public."
The State of Florida declined to investigate Rick Scott following the nursing home deaths.
On March 26, 2018, Florida mandated that nursing homes have back-up power in the case of future outages.