Nursing home officials at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Florida said they called an emergency cellphone number connected to Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office making a request for help 36 hours before patients began to die, but Scott is now pushing back.
Eight of the nursing home residents died this week after the massive power outages from Hurricane Irma caused the facility's air conditioning to fail.
After placing multiple calls to the local electricity utility, Florida Power and Light, a senior official with the nursing home called the number given by Scott and that call went straight to voicemail. A message was left, saying the nursing home required "immediate assistance" from FPL, according to the local CBS affiliate. More calls were placed to FLP and the governor's office as the power situation continued and conditions of the patients deteriorated.
The governor's office maintains that calls to the emergency cellphone number were transferred to two other agencies, according to ABC News.
Scott's communications director John Tupps said, "Every call made to the governor from facility management was referred to the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health and quickly returned."
The nursing home reportedly had been told to call 911 too, and an emergency operations center in Tallahassee said that the FPL report order would be "escalated," according to CBS4 News. Patients were eventually evacuated, but not before several had died.
Scott said he was "heartbroken" by the news and was determined to "aggressively demand answers."
"If they find that anyone wasn't acting in the best interests of their patients, we will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law," the governor said.
The patients who passed away were primarily treated for respiratory distress, dehydration, and heat-related issues. Once some of the patients reached Memorial Regional Hospital, some of them had temperatures reaching 106 degrees, according to hospital officials.