While it is great news to hear that a full 100 percent of Citrus County’s nine nursing homes are in compliance with the state’s emergency power mandate that went into effect June 1, of the county’s 24 assisted living facility (ALF) providers, just 14 have complied, according to the latest data from the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).
These new emergency guidelines mean that if another hurricane rolls through cutting power to those facilities, they will have enough back-up power — such as an on-site generator — to provide staff and residents 96 hours worth of air conditioning.
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.
Gov. Rick Scott proposed the emergency power plan rule following the deaths last year of a dozen elderly people in a Hollywood Hills nursing home during and in the weeks following Hurricane Irma. The Florida Legislature passed rules mandating that those facilities verify they have installed a working generator or alternate backup power source by June 1, the start of hurricane season.
Florida is one of the first states in the nation to require emergency generators at all nursing homes and ALFs.
Facilities that fail to comply are subject to fines or sanctions of up to $1,000 a day and revocation of their license to operate in Florida.
As of June 15, 524 nursing homes and 1,027 ALFS filed extensions to complete these requirements.
Under the rules, extensions can be granted for reasons including construction or delays in delivery, zoning, or regulatory approvals, provided the facility submits alternative cooling plans that can keep residents at safe temperatures for 96 hours. 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
AHCA said it will cost Florida nursing homes more than $186 million to comply with the generator requirement. The agency based its estimates on information provided from the nursing home industry, which said the costs for a generator at a 120-bed facility would be $315,200. Using those figures, AHCA estimated the average cost per bed at $2,626.66.
The 2018 hurricane season has begun and continues until November 30. The peak season occurs between mid-August and late October.
As we know all too well in Florida, hurricanes are powerful systems with winds of 74 miles per hour or higher. When hurricanes or tropical storms make landfall, they bring heavy winds and rain as well as massive flooding. Lack of preparation is extremely dangerous for those who live in a hurricane’s path, so it is good thing that the AHCA is strongly enforcing these new requirements for nursing homes and ALFs.
Losing electricity in a storm with the size and strength of a hurricane like Hurricane Irma that swept through in 2017 can be common. However, facilities should have back-up systems and plans so their residents are safe. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or died as the result of a nursing home’s or an ALF’s negligence before or after a hurricane, you may have grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.