JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One local family is pointing to failures in the Florida’s vaccine distribution efforts after the head of their family passed away two weeks before his vaccine appointment.
Bruce Scott was 74-years-old and had been living in an assisted living facility since October. Those conditions were supposed to put Scott at the top of the priority list when vaccines were distributed, according to the state’s plan.
“I have seen friends and family members vaccinated. The people that were the most vulnerable in these facilities were promised and assured that they would be the first on the list to get vaccinated, and they’re still waiting. They’re still waiting. My husband was not vaccinated and is now gone and that’s a failure in this system” Scott’s wife Susie said.
Bruce Scott was well known in the Jacksonville community. He founded and led a successful business as the owner of Scott Alarm. Scott Alarm started as a small security supplier that Scott grew into a multi-million dollar company with locations in Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Orlando.
At one point the company was the largest independent alarm company in the United States and had several locations throughout the southeast.
Scott was also a former detective with Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in the mid-1960s and held several other titles in the local community throughout the years, but most important of all, as Scott would say, he was a husband, father, and grandfather.
In late 2017, Scott received a dire diagnosis. Doctors told him he had Dementia. By October 2020, the disease had progressed and he required around the clock care. He was moved to a Jacksonville assisted living facility at Harbor Chase of Mandarin.
It was an extraordinarily difficult decision for the family to make, knowing the restrictions on visitors due to the pandemic, but in early December, the decision came with a silver lining when Gov. Ron DeSantis said residents in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities would be the first to get the coronavirus vaccine, behind healthcare workers.
But Scott was waitlisted. An appointment was set for January 23, but on January 2, he started showing COVID-19 symptoms and tested positive. The virus progressed quickly.
“This disease was determined to kill him. They gave him every treatment that there is out there, and nothing slowed it down. Nothing stopped it.” said Susie Scott, Bruce’s wife.
On Sunday, Bruce was taken to the emergency room but cleared to go home after doctors felt he would recover.
“By Tuesday, he went back to the hospital. The virus had ravaged him. For us to not be able to be there during that and to know that his family loved him and to be able to hold his hand was excruciating really,” said Scott’s daughter Angeline Cook said.
Two days later, doctors told the family was told Scott would likely not recover and it was time to say goodbye.
“We had to say our goodbyes through zoom. That’s very hard. That’s very very hard to not be with your loved one when they pass and let them know how much you’re supporting them,” his wife Susie said.
Susie Scott is now calling for state and local leaders to fulfill their promise to put seniors in assisted living facilities, first.
“The people that were the most vulnerable should have been prioritized. That was already known. 40% or more of the deaths across this country have happened in long term care facilities. They knew that. They knew that. Why were they not prioritized? Why was he not a priority?” said Scott.
Scott’s wife says in addition to reevaluating the priority list for vaccine distribution, there should be more organization across county lines.
Bruce Scott will be laid to rest Monday. The public is invited to view his virtual funeral service here.