After a dozen elders overheated and died in a Hollywood nursing home during Hurricane Irma last year, Florida has passed new rules requiring health facilities to install backup generators capable of keeping the air conditioning blowing if the power goes out.
The state healthcare agency in charge of regulating institutions like nursing homes and assisted living facilities has not been able to inspect all the generators before the start of hurricane season, which was June 1.
The Agency for Healthcare Administration sees facilities inspected once every two years, and apparently has no plans to change that. This means that some generators won’t be inspected by AHCA this storm season or possibly even before the season after that. There are nearly 3,800 nursing homes and ALFs around the state.
Local fire departments also inspect nursing homes annually for life and safety, so the generators could be checked then.
The rules passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott require healthcare facilities to submit a safety plan verifying they have installed a working generator or alternate power source that can supply electricity for a maximum of 96 hours.
AHCA is tasked with reviewing the new emergency power plans for the required generators, but the rules set few requirements for how the agency will ensure the plans are being followed.
The new rules also state that AHCA “may request cooperation” from Florida’s fire marshal to inspect the generators.
Penalties for not following the rules include but are “not limited to, license revocation, license suspension, and the imposition of administrative fines.” AHCA may also grant extensions until January 2019 for generator installation.
Pinellas County has 70 nursing homes and nearly 200 ALFs.
When a nursing home or ALF is not prepared to manage residents in the midst of a tropical storm or hurricane, it can cause residents to suffer from various personal injuries and even wrongful death. For those who suffer injuries while in a nursing home environment, our Pinellas County Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can investigate whether the nursing home should be held responsible for their actions.
We can help injured nursing home residents recover financial compensation to cover medical expenses, therapy, rehabilitative care, as well as wrongful death expenses. We will look into nursing home and ALF policies and practices to determine if negligence contributed to, or caused a resident to suffer harm.