Thursday, February 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Scott should keep demanding better for seniors in nursing homes

The horrific story of elderly Floridians dying from the heat in a Broward County nursing home after surviving Hurricane Irma grows more outrageous. Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott's move to prevent it from accepting new patients or Medicaid payments. It's inconceivable that this tragedy already has devolved into finger-pointing, and it will test the resolve of state government to continue to stand up for the state's most vulnerable seniors against a powerful industry that routinely protects its bottom line.

There is no rational explanation for residents at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills dying after being without air conditioning following Irma — and with the full-service Memorial Regional Hospital right across the street. The residents were evacuated the morning of Sept. 13 hours after the first resident was taken to the hospital. A criminal investigation is under way, and the state suspended the nursing home's license to operate Wednesday. There should be a call to action in the state with the highest portion of residents who are 65 years old or older.

Yet just a week after this sickening loss of life, Scott is getting attacked by this very same nursing home. The industry is raising concerns about implementing the governor's emergency rule that would take effect in less than 60 days and require the state's 685 nursing homes and 3,109 assisted living facilities to have a generator and fuel to keep their facilities reasonably cool for at least four days following a power outage. While it's reasonable to discuss logistics, no Floridian should fear dying in the heat in one of these facilities because the electricity goes out and there is no air conditioning following a hurricane.

The Broward nursing home defends the indefensible by pointing to calls it made Sept. 12 to the governor, which were referred to appropriate state agencies. But the detailed time line released by Scott's office shows the nursing home reported no issues after Irma made landfall Sept. 10 even though that is the day its air conditioning system lost power. The problem was noted the following day by the nursing home administrator in a call to the state, but the state says there was no indication that conditions had become dangerous or patients were at risk. The evacuations occurred the morning of Sept. 13 after nursing home patients began arriving at the hospital.

The welfare of seniors in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other homes after power is lost following a storm is not an isolated concern. Officials throughout Tampa Bay rechecked facilities following the news of the deaths in Broward. Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard says some of those facilities in Pinellas were not prepared for power outages, and some of their residents were taken by EMS to shelters. Hillsborough County commissioners discussed the issue Wednesday, with Sandra Murman urging Scott to remain firm in ensuring those homes have power after a storm and Stacy White suggesting the county explore whether it can require generators at assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Local officials should remain vigilant, but ultimately this is a public health and safety issue for the state.

Florida can have zero tolerance for allowing nursing homes and other facilities to keep vulnerable seniors in sweltering, dangerous conditions when the power goes out. The governor's aggressiveness in response to the Broward tragedy reflects the appropriate sense of urgency, and he and state lawmakers should not back down in requiring better.

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Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18
Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

Editorial: Buckhorn should not appeal verdict in firefighterís case

The city of Tampa should have taken Tanja Vidovic seriously from the start when the Tampa firefighter complained about her treatment in the workplace. Now that a jury and judge have spoken, itís time for City Hall to cut its losses, learn from its mi...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

Editorial: CareerSource troubles mount as public trust drops

The dark cloud enveloping Tampa Bayís job placement centers keeps growing. There are accusations of forged documents, evidence of nepotism and concerns about grossly inflated performance numbers that could be tied to receiving more public money and b...
Published: 02/15/18
Updated: 02/16/18
Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Editorials: Prayers and platitudes after shootings arenít enough

Even before the victims of another mass shooting at another public school were identified, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, state legislators and members of Congress rushed to South Florida or to social media to offer their thoughts and p...
Published: 02/15/18
Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

Editorial: DCF review should get to the bottom of Hillsborough foster care issues

The Florida Department of Children and Families is right to call for a timely and "comprehensive" review of Hillsborough Countyís foster care system. Though the probe is a reaction to a recent case involving a child who was left unattended, the revie...
Published: 02/14/18

A Washington Post editorial: Modernize 911 calling before it becomes an emergency

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 emergency call placed in the United States. Since then, uncounted lives have been saved and people helped. It has been a great accomplishment of government.But even as an estimated 240 million 9...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18