Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

 

The dual shot on the southern portion of this country by hurricanes has brought about numerous stories of humanity and the character of our citizens. Leave it to politicians to use tragedy in the wake of these tempests for personal gain.

Among the many gripping stories to come in the aftermath of hurricane Irma was the harrowing account of needless death and suffering within a nursing home in Hollywood, FL. With the loss of electricity temperatures rose inside the facility and as of now nine residents, aged 70 to 99 years, perished as a result of the conditions. One of the outrageous details is the facility is located within a short walk’s distance to a major hospital — Memorial Regional — which had full power at the time of the crisis.

As news reports came out about the negligent tragedy questions erupted, foremost being what about backup generators?  Not only would this seem needed for air conditioning in the building but for the numerous medical devices and monitors used to assist the frail. As details are discovered the story has been evolving, all while the blame for these deaths has been passed around vigorously.

The actions of administrators are under scrutiny (the facility has just been stripped of it operating license) but Senator Bill Nelson has not been timid in laying the blame for the tragedy on the office of Governor Rick Scott. Nelson took to the floor of the Senate to register his condemnation of the Governor over these deaths.

Eight people died in a nursing home right across the street from a major hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Eight frail, elderly (people) from ages 70 to 99. Eight needless deaths.” (note: The ninth death has since been recorded.)  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.”

The Senator’s words have sparked a dark theater around this tragedy, as accusations mount and excuses stack up. Nelson was echoed by The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which came out on Tuesday with comments accusing Scott of a “failure to respond” to requests for help from the nursing home administrators.

The governor’s office, fully occupied with broader hurricane responses, has been forced to defend itself by issuing a statement.

No amount of finger pointing by the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Facility and Larkin Community Hospital Behavioral Health Services will hide the fact that this healthcare facility failed to do their basic duty to protect life. This facility is failing to take responsibility for the fact that they delayed calling 911 and made the decision to not evacuate their patients to one of the largest hospitals in Florida, which is directly across the street.”

Those administrators are doing their best to deflect as well. Spokespersons have pointed out that they called both Florida Power and Light repeatedly, as well as the direct line to the Governor, in the days after the storm hit Florida. (Scott had issued cell phones to various outlets and facilities prior to the hurricane landfall.) His office has had to go so far as releasing phone logs to show they had in fact responded, directing the administrators to call emergency services.

The reason for this crass accusatory lurch seems apparent — Scott is a likely challenger to Nelson’s Senate seat in the next election. Yet as the Senator pounces on a chance to injure the character of a future opponent this is what political posturing leads to: at a time when state services are in highest demand energies have to be applied towards fending off political opportunism.

It is relatively easy to see the vacancy of Nelson’s blame-inducing speech. The facility itself did have an emergency generator, but there are questions as to the air conditioning system being functional. As for the oversight of these facilities it is telling that as Nelson wished to blame Scott he has no particular legislation he can point to indicating the Governor’s office impacted the readiness of this nursing home. Oversight is done on a localized level. The facility submits an emergency preparedness plan not to state regulators but to county officials, who oversee and approve these procedures.

These are the kind of facts that won’t impede an avaricious politician. “We don’t know all the facts, it will come out in the criminal investigation,’ says Nelson, using the tragedy as his cudgel, “but it is inexcusable that eight frail elderly people would die.”

And it is inexplicable someone would use those deaths for political gain.