Voicemails from the Hollywood, FL, skilled nursing facility where several residents died following Hurricane Irma were deleted by Gov. Rick Scott (R), potentially complicating the ongoing investigation into the incident.
Employees at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills left four voicemails on Scott’s personal cell phone, after he gave the number to providers as “emergency backup” ahead of Hurricane Irma. The facility called the number after it lost power to its air conditioning system, causing temperatures in the building to soar. The death roll from the facility has now risen to 11 residents.
Despite the repeated calls, Florida’s health department maintains that facility management never reported that “conditions had become dangerous or that the health and safety of their patients was at risk.”
The voicemails left by The Rehabilitation Center have since been deleted, CBS Miami reported on Friday. A spokeswoman for Scott’s office told the television station “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.”
“None of this changes the fact that this facility chose not to call 911 or evacuate their patients to the hospital across the street to save lives,” the spokeswoman said.
Some say the investigation into the facility’s handling of the situation will be harder without proof that they called the governor for help, the Miami Herald reported Sunday.
“Why not just keep it? It’s bothersome to say the least,” Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, told the Herald. “Right now, we’re in a ‘he said, she said.’”