Florida Officials Kept Secret Worst TB Outbreak in 20 Years as Leading TB Hospital Closed to Save Money

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Tuberculosis X-Ray
Officials in Florida concealed a federal health report warning of a serious tuberculosis outbreak, while at the same time Governor Rick Scott approved the closure of a hospital that specialized in caring for TB cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told the state that the TB outbreak was one of the worst seen in 20 years, according to one health inspector. At least 13 people had died, mostly poor black men, and nearly 100 others had become ill.
April 5 was the date of the CDC report. Nine days earlier, Scott signed legislation that reduced the budget of the Florida Department of Health and required the closure of the A.G. Holley State Hospital in Lantana, in Palm Beach County, which had cared for TB patients for more than 60 years.
The report warned state officials that 3,000 people in the past two years may have been exposed to TB cases at Jacksonville’s homeless shelters, an outpatient mental health clinic, and local jails. But only 253 residents had been identified and evaluated for the contagious disease.
“Today, three months after it was sent to Tallahassee, the CDC report still has not been widely circulated,” wrote Stacey Singer in the Palm Beach Post.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Worst TB Outbreak in 20 Years Kept Secret (by Stacey Singer, Palm Beach Post)



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