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Trust Bill Nelson to Make Political Hay of Hollywood Nursing Home Deaths

September 26, 2017 - 6:00am

In the wake of Hurricane Irma’s march through Florida, one of the most tragic and incendiary events was a nursing home in Hollywood where some 11 patients died from heat exposure. Following the loss of its power residents inside The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills suffered from rising temperatures, and the actions of the facility administrators are under scrutiny.

Yet, in the wake of such a tragedy, at a time when most people are looking at the humanitarian efforts following a hurricane, one elected official -- U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson -- has been willing to leverage these deaths for political traction. 

Nelson did not hesitate to level blame for this avoidable tragedy. On the floor of the U.S. Senate Nelson used his bully pulpit to point fingers for the deaths, indicating the blame lies in Tallahassee, specifically the governor’s office.

Questions about actions within the facility have been raised. While the building did in fact have back-up generators, the air conditioning units were not functional. Alternate cooling units and fans were being used, with very mixed results. The heat within the building had risen so high that it drastically raised patients’ body temperatures

Prior to the arrival of Irma Gov. Rick Scott had a cell phone number supplied to various offices, emergency managers, and hospitals and nursing homes, affording them direct contact with his office following the storm’s landfall. Nelson makes it clear that this was not an effective point of contact, and that there could be negligence on Scott’s part, resulting in the patient deaths.

“People died in a nursing home right across the street from a major hospital in Hollywood, Florida,” Nelson declared from the Senate floor. “All the phone calls that had been made that were not answered both to the government as well as to the power company as reported.” Echoing Nelson’s charge was the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which detailed what it perceived as failed policies leading to the deaths.

What is striking in these accusations is that the effort to lay culpability at Scott’s feet ignores some stark realities. While calls by rehab center administrators were in fact made to Scott’s hotline, and to Florida Power and Light Co., it appears nursing home staff oddly hesitated to contact emergency services. 

Additionally, directly across the parking lot from the facility is Memorial Regional Hospital, which had full power and accommodations. Once hospital workers were alerted to a few serious cases brought in, they went into the facility to tend to all residents, discovering the initial deaths. Eventually, all had been evacuated to the hospital for treatment. Despite this obvious issue with the activities on site, Nelson has been willing to level the charge at Tallahassee. Scott’s office, in the midst of relief efforts, has been compelled to release phone records to respond to accusations of lack of contact with the facility.

Nelson’s finger-pointing is transparent. Scott is challenging him next year for his Senate seat. The governor has all but made his run official.  Even President Trump alluded to Scott’s Senate candidacy during his tour of Florida to survey hurricane damage.  He gave verbal support to the governor as a future senator. It’s apparently something that has eaten up the incumbent senator -- that, plus remembering pre-Irma, he and Scott were even in the polls. It has apparently inspired him to politicize a tragedy not just to score early political points for himself, but to keep Scott from scoring any more of his own.

Brad Slager is a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer who wrote this piece exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.


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Comments

Clearly the blame for the deaths at the Hollywood Hills rehab center rests with the center's management and staff. Gov. Scott did a great job throughout Irma's impact on Florida as did first responders and FEMA. Time to retire Nelson.

No, Rick Scott did not do a great job doing anything but making political gains for himself during this disaster. How on earth can you contend that the telephone number that Rick Scott himself provided for people needing the Governor's power to intervene on their behalf was in fact an empty gesture, conceived and presented to gain political leverage, a deceptive tactic to garner political support for his aspirations for election? That's as transparent as political deception gets, and in this case, it cost those who attempted to use this help line the ultimate price. All because Mr. Scott leveraged his position and opportunity to further his own personal ambition. Think about it.

This low-life sleazy attack on a Governor who performed admirably in Irma's aftermath is precisely why Independent voters such as myself want the swamp drained of career politicians who have no decency.

Billy is a PUNK..BS'er and Liar....He only does things to TRY to make his Selfish self look good for his handful of Elderly Constituents...TIME FOR HIM TO GO TO REST HOME...He Used Space Shuttle Program for himself as SO-CALL astronaut in 80's ..then Sold them out to Obama & cancelled Program......Billy you days are over just like Traitor Johnny McCain......THANK GOD

Nelson is playing this one as a "Professional Lawyer Politicians". ANYBODY gt a CLUE how very many homes for Seniors there ARE in Florida? Answer: TOO MANY TO COUNT! So, he picks on a SINGLE FAILURE as a "National Disgrace"! Yes - this was a TRAGEDY, but all in all, Florida Government did a FANTASTIC job! Very "weak" attempt, Billy Boy, to try to get a leg UP on Governor Scott, who did a Wonderful Job. Nelson gets my vote for NOTHING, SCOTT for U.S. Senate! Retire and ride into the sunset Nelson...

"A single failure"? A single failure where 11 PEOPLE DIED~!! What, don't they count for anything? It was "disgraceful"! To read the comments here is interesting if not infuriating. As our so-called president says....SAD~!

BILL NELSON IS A DEMOCRAT WHORE. Nelson follows Chicago's Mayor - never ever let a crisis got to waste. FLORIDA - WHAT HAS NELSON DONE FOR OUR STATE - EVER?????? We need to retire this man who is nothing more than a reliable vote for all things Democrat. he is a WHORE. It is past time RETIRE BILL NELSON

Wow Nancy, you are one mean woman! A whore? Where does your anger come from. Sounds like you would benefit from some therapy!

Bill Nelson apparently learned something from rahm Emmanuel, never let a distaster go to waste! The sole responsibility is on the owner and staff of the nursing home! Trying to blame the governor is ridiculous. Bill Nelson should be going after the nursing home and the incompetent staff.

The culpability for this tragedy clearly lies with the nursing home administration. They had a duty to care and protect and they failed miserably. What is true is calls to the Gov.'s office were not only not returned, but erased. That is a problem. Supposedly they were passed on to AHCA. Where are those messages? Those questions need to be answered. Scott's office has all too often skirted sunshine laws and this is another example of that. It is wrong. It is against the law. The other issue that will come up is increased regs for nursing homes was passed in the House in '06. The Senate would not even hear the additional regulations due to the powerful nursing home lobby. It is terrible to politicize the terrible tragedy, but the facts still remain that some of this could have been avoided... It all could have been avoided if the nursing home had done its job!

When the Governor chooses to mislead the public by making commitments that are nothing more than image enhancing political promises with no intention or genuine effort to keep those commitments. This is nothing new to Rick Scott, who has never taken responsibility for his deceptions and complicity in activities that harm us all. The shills who are singing his praises on the pages of this dedicated propaganda "news" site are either dopes or worse than the U.S. Senator who this article claims to "expose" for making political hay by pointing out that Rick Scott's emergency hotline was, in fact, an intentional ruse. Shame on those who use this website for the treacherous purpose of duping the public and furthering the cause of the worst of the worst opportunists. Our governor ranking near the top of that list....

Since the media couldn't come up with another Katrina to hammer President Trump and Governor Scott, they simply ignored the terrific state/federal response and coordination. Despite the lack of news coverage, the people know competence when they see it, which makes Scott an ever-more lethal threat to Nelson's reelection. Nelson and the democrats care as much about the care of seniors as they do for victims of illegal aliens.

These comments are astounding! Senator Nelson care more about seniors and everyone else than Scott ever could. As for the Democrats.....we actually DO care about the people of this state, we don't just pay lip service to people.

THE PRESS IS 100% DEMOCRAT - 100% IN THE BAG FOR SCHUMER, PELOSI, WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ, DURBIN, MAXINE, ETC. The US press is filled with Democrat liars and deceivers. No one can read or watch the US press anymore wituout a HUGE does of skepticism. THE US PRESS LIES.

Troll. Get a job.

These were people already at death's door, extremely fragile. It is sad but Obamacare that Bill Nelson voted for was denying any treatment to them based on their age. I think Nelson needs to read the bill he shoved down our throats. This issue is going to sink Nelson.

The "Republican Conscience"? How on earth did the AHCA ("Obamacare" to those of you who appeal to the worst of our prejudices and fears) play any part in the treatment of these elderly nursing home patients, people who are and have been forced to liquidate almost all personal assets towards their own care before being qualified for public assistance via Medicaid, a program that preceded "Obamacare" by at least four decades? What sort of mindlessness or hatefulness would inspire anyone to concoct a link between "Obamacare" and what happened to people left to die in an oven? A Republican? We are beyond redemption when people are so sick or selfish that they pretend competence in their allegations and convictions when in fact they themselves are devoid credibility.

Bill Nelson will NEVER read anything. He takes orders from Schumer. He gets his campaign money from Soros front organizations. BILL NELSON SOLD OUT ALL OF FLORIDA A LONG TIME AGO. RETIRE BILL NELSON NOW.

One would hope so!

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