Last year 14 elderly people died due to overheated conditions in a Hollywood, Florida nursing home after the air conditioning failed during hurricane Irma.
Acting quickly to avoid a similar tragedy, Governor Rick Scott signed an Emergency Rule, that mandated that nursing homes and assisted living facilities (ALFs) have generators installed for the purpose of running climate control systems that will maintain temperatures below 80 degrees during a power outage by June 1 – the official start of hurricane season.
Many Hernando County ALFs have not had enough time to implement these new requirements.
Failure to comply with the emergency rules will result in penalties including fines up to $1,000 per day and the possible revocation of a facility’s license.
As of June 15, 524 nursing homes and 1,027 ALFS filed extensions to complete these requirements.
Obtaining an extension means that the facilities are still in compliance with the law, despite not having the backup power fully in place or not inspected.
Facilities that have filed extensions must have plans that include:
- Bringing a temporary generator onsite during power outages
- Contracting for priority fuel replenishment during a power outage
- Moving residents to common areas that can be cooled with an existing generator
- Evacuation if needed
For the entire state of Florida, AHCA data shows 100 percent compliance among all 684 statewide nursing homes. And 1,722 out of the state’s 3,097 ALFs have met the mandate’s requirements, for a 55.60 percent compliance rate.
Nursing home and ALF residents are at high risk during natural disasters, so it is important that our laws protect them rather than hurt them. Nursing home and ALF regulations are enacted for very good reasons, but the sad truth is that they are often neglected. A disregard for residents and neglect of the rules and regulations can often times lead to a nursing home abuse lawsuit.