Florida nursing homes and assisted living facilities have until July 1 to comply with new requirements. The buildings must have power generators installed and fuel to power air-conditioning systems.
The news laws were passed by legislators and signed on Monday by Governor Rick Scott following the mass power outages left in the wake of 2017’s Hurricane Irma. During the loss of power, 12 residents of an overheated Hollywood, Florida nursing home, the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, died.
The Hollywood nursing home was evacuated and its operational license was revoked. The deaths were classified as homicides, but no criminal charges have been filed. The investigation is ongoing.
Under the new rules, assisted living facilities with fewer than 17 beds must house enough fuel to run generators (and air conditioners) for 48 hours, larger ones will be required to carry enough supplies to run for 72 hours.
Florida nursing homes will have higher mandates, including installing and maintaining equipment able to keep inside temperatures during a power outage at or below 81 degrees for 96 hours.
October 23, 2017
Last month’s horrendous scene at a Hollywood nursing home which resulted in 14 deaths from overheating, has led cities and states to push for better regulations.
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is scheduled to introduce new legislation this week.
Locally, Boynton Beach City Commissioners have issued a condition for a new assisted living facility proposed for a Congress Avenue location – it must have enough backup generators to power the entire building during loss of electrical power.
Boca Raton is also considering similar requirements, making nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide and maintain enough backup generators and fuel to power the entire structure for a minimum of 4 days in the case of a power outage.
The cities’ plans and concerns come after a tragic loss of life following Hurricane Irma. An assisted living facility in Hollywood did not have the means to cool their building and residents during the extended power outage, resulting in an extremely warm building and overheated residents.
Among the deceased, some body temperatures were as high as 109.9 degrees Fahrenheit. To date, 14 residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills have died as a result of the post-hurricane conditions.
The terrible loss in Hollywood has prompted lawmakers at both the state and federal level to ask for changes in policy, such as generator requirements.
The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills had its licence suspended by the State of Florida and laid off its 245 employees.
Last week, legislators held a congressional field hearing at Miami-Dade College, searching for feedback to help construct legislation that would offer protection to the most vulnerable of citizens.
According to a press release, Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is expected to introduce legislation as early as today, mandating that care facilities have an alternate source of energy in place. The source must be capable of powering the facility for up to 96 hours after a natural disaster.
The legislation will also move nursing homes to a top priority for power restoration after an outage, furthermore, it will increase fines for facilities that do not comply with the emergency preparedness rules.