Sen. Rick Scott said the alleged actions of a Florida nursing home to distribute vaccines to wealthy donors instead of elderly residents is "absolutely disgusting," and called for a congressional investigation.
"It is absolutely disgusting and immoral that anyone would take vaccines intended for nursing homes to distribute them to their friends," the Florida Republican wrote on Twitter. "I am calling for a full Congressional investigation into reports of improper vaccine distribution by MorseLife Health System."
Wealthy Floridians who donated to MorseLife Health System, a high-end nursing home and assisted-living facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., were allegedly offered fast-passes to skip the COVID-19 vaccine line by the home’s chief executive, Keith Meyers.
According to first-hand accounts published by The Washington Post, MorseLife offered vaccines allocated by the federal government not only to its residents and staff but also to board members and those who had made generous donations to the facility, including members of Palm Beach Country Club. Some reportedly accepted the offer.
A foundation associated with the country club has contributed $75,000 to MorseLife affiliates since 2016, according to tax documents.
"He asked me if I wanted to have a vaccine," Ryna Greenbaum, 89, told The Post of a phone call she received from Meyers last week. "I’m one of the people who has given him some money."
Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued an executive order stipulating that shots may be administered to residents and staff of long-term care facilities, followed by adults 65 and older. A portion of the weekly allocation of doses is set aside for long-term care facilities and health care workers, and the rest is delivered to hospitals and county health departments. Hundreds of older Floridians have been camping out overnight in frigid temperatures to reserve their share of the limited supply.
Broward County Mayor Steve Geller said in a news conference Tuesday that he’d been bombarded by frustrated seniors in Florida upset at the slow process of vaccine distribution. Geller said that Florida does not have enough doses for its 4.5 million seniors. "Not everyone will be vaccinated tomorrow or next week or next month," he said.
In Miami, all vaccination signups and appointments offered on a website launched Tuesday were taken within minutes, The Miami Herald reported.
Robert Fromer, former managing partner at a New York City law firm, received the jab from MorseLife last week along with his wife. Fromer’s family foundation has donated $45,000 to MorseLife since 2015.
He told The Post that about 12 vaccinators from Walgreens were on-site at the event where he received the jab. Fromer said a small number of the country club’s approximately 300 members were among those receiving vaccinations.
Fromer, in his 80s, asserted that donors were not given preferential treatment and insisted that the shots allocated to MorseLife were not strictly for the long-term care facility’s residents, but for older residents of West Palm Beach. Palm Beach County health officials, however, said the general public was not authorized to receive a shot at MorseLife.
The Department of Health and Human Services was explicit in its outline for distribution at long-term care facilities -- chain pharmacies would administer the vaccine to residents and staff. A federal health official told The Post chain pharmacies were not directed to offer additional immunizations at the sites.