SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2018

Florida senator calls for investigation into state TB hospital's closure amid outbreak

Florida State Senator Maria Sachs (D-Fla.) called for the reopening of the A.G. Holley State Hospital in Florida in the wake of the nation's largest tuberculosis outbreak in 20 years.

Sachs sent a letter expressing her concerns to Florida Governor Richard Lynn Scott. She requested the creation of a panel to investigate why state legislators were not provided with information about the outbreak when they voted on a bill that led to the hospital's closure, according to

Health officials in Duval County Florida contacted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the outbreak, which caused the deaths of 13 people and sickened more than 100 more, in February. The legislators were not briefed about the situation before voting to close the facility in March.

"I did not have this information available to me before my decision to vote on the bill," Sachs wrote, reports. "In the interest of transparency in government, it is absolutely essential that all information be available to legislators and considered before a vote."

Sachs voted against closing the hospital over concerns about the impact it would have on public health. The facility was Florida's last TB treatment hospital.

"With so many people at risk, we cannot afford to let patients go without medical care or have them contaminate or put in jeopardy any other people in our state," Sachs said, reports. "It is imperative that we immediately investigate this lack of transparency, why the state rushed the closure of this hospital, and the steps we now need to take to protect the public."