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Minority Office — Press Release


October 12, 2017

CONTACT: Michelle DeMarco, 850487.5833

Senate Democrats Call for Apology from GOP Senator Defending Nursing Home at Center of 14 Deaths

Tallahassee —

Outraged by remarks made yesterday by Republican Senator Dennis Baxley suggesting that the deaths of 14 elderly patients at a South Florida nursing home following Hurricane Irma were somehow self-inflicted, Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, on behalf of the entire Senate Democratic Caucus, demanded an apology.

“These men and women were entrusted to a nursing home that abandoned that responsibility and left them to die,” said Leader Braynon (D-Miami Gardens). “To say that death was imminent regardless of the actual facts that caused these fatalities not only diminishes the role this nursing home played, but the cascade of events that set the stage for such a calamity to happen. Senator Baxley owes the surviving families an immediate apology.”

At a meeting on Wednesday of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Baxley stunned many lawmakers as well as members of the public when he deflected blame from the nursing home and inadequate policy to the elderly patients themselves.

“Look at the population,” he reportedly said. “You're dealing with the 90-somethings. Some of these deaths would naturally occur, storm or no storm. Eventually everyone who was in that nursing home will die. But we don't need to attribute those all to the storm and bad policy.”

The deaths at the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center are currently under criminal investigation. The nursing home, one of many statewide that lost power during Hurricane Irma’s landfall in Florida, did not have a functioning backup generator to maintain air conditioning in the sweltering heat. The catastrophic conditions led to 14 of the patients eventually succumbing following days of exposure to the intense heat. Eight of them died three days after the power loss; six of them died following their evacuation from the nursing home after authorities were summoned.

“If the fault lies with anyone, it begins with the Scott Administration that allowed bad actors in the nursing home industry to flourish with no effective regulatory oversight. It ends with a nursing home that ignored these helpless souls entrusted to their care,” said Leader Braynon. “Senator Baxley should know better, and he should be ashamed for refusing to place the blame where it actually belongs.”