This is criminal.
JACKSONVILLE — The CDC officer had a serious warning for Florida health officials in April: A tuberculosis outbreak in Jacksonville was one of the worst his group had investigated in 20 years. Linked to 13 deaths and 99 illnesses, including six children, it would require concerted action to stop.
That report had been penned on April 5, exactly nine days after Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill that shrank the Department of Health and required the closure of the A.G. Holley State Hospital in Lantana, where tough tuberculosis cases have been treated for more than 60 years.
As health officials in Tallahassee turned their focus to restructuring, Dr. Robert Luo’s 25-page report describing Jacksonville’s outbreak — and the measures needed to contain it – went unseen by key decision makers around the state. At the health agency, an order went out that the TB hospital must be closed six months ahead of schedule.
Had they seen the letter, decision makers would have learned that 3,000 people in the past two years may have had close contact with contagious people at Jacksonville’s homeless shelters, an outpatient mental health clinic and area jails. Yet only 253 people had been found and evaluated for TB infection, meaning Florida’s outbreak was, and is, far from contained.
The public was not to learn anything until early June, even though the same strain was appearing in other parts of the state, including Miami. […]
Today, three months after it was sent to Tallahassee, the CDC report still has not been widely circulated. […]
It was early February when Duval County Health Department officials felt so overwhelmed by the sudden spike in tuberculosis that they asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to become involved. Believing the outbreak affected only their underclass, the health officials made a conscious decision not to not tell the public, repeating a decision they had made in 2008, when the same strain had appeared in an assisted living home for people with schizophrenia. […]
“With TB it’s a judgment call,” said Duval County Health Director Dr. Bob Harmon in a telephone interview Friday, after the state’s new surgeon general referred questions back to him.
“There have been TB outbreaks where we do alert the public, such as a school or a college,” Harmon added.
The CDC issued a report on the TB outbreak, but the state health department didn’t take the report seriously or even widely circulate it. Instead, the man overseeing the consolidation of the state’s healthcare system issued an order to close the only hospital in the state that treats TB six months ahead of schedule.
The Post report notes that most of the sick were poor black men, or what state health department officials refer to as the “underclass,” so they decided not to inform the public. They also apparently didn’t bother to make addressing the issue a priority either.
As of today the TB strain is still circulating among the general population. But you know, it’s probably limited to the “underclass,” so who cares? Right? Treating them is too expensive anyway!
I shit you not, that is their reasoning.
“There is every bit of understanding that we cannot not take care of people who have a difficult case of TB.” -Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples
The entire Palm Beach Post report discusses in depth of how state budget cuts will severely diminish the state’s ability combat an outbreak like this.
Who exactly is doing the healthcare rationing now?
Best fucking healthcare system ever!* (*if you can afford it)