Last year, hurricane Irma knocked out power for an extended time in parts of Florida, resulting in the needless death of elderly patients at the Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center. Without emergency power, many of the facilities in the region became uninhabitable due to oppressive heat and staff could not adequately care for all residents in the stifling conditions. A new law has been passed to prevent any future preventable tragedies due to a lack of power at nursing homes during hurricanes and other inclement weather.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) now requires that facilities have an appropriate alternative power source such as a generator. According to the latest information on their website, that emergency power source must be able to provide uninterrupted power for four days and provide enough electricity to keep indoor temperatures at or below 81 degrees Fahrenheit. While not perfect, it’s a massive improvement over no electricity at all.
According to the AHCA, nursing homes will also be required to keep a copy of their emergency power plan readily available on site. The AHCA is still working on final guidance, so we do not currently know if that information will be made available to residents and their families.
Thanks to the new law, as well as other measures that nursing homes in the area have taken, Florida nursing homes are now prepped and ready for the 2018 hurricane season. In an interview with WCTV, Kristen Knapp of the Florida Healthcare Association stated that “Our facilities have been doing disaster drills, working their emergency preparedness plans, training their staff, making sure they have everything they need to be ready for hurricane season.”
If you are looking at nursing homes in climates that may experience extreme heat, cold, or adverse weather conditions, look into what type of preparations and emergency plans they have in place. Do they have a generator? Do they already have an alternate location planned where they can relocate residents to in an emergency? What are their policies regarding contacting families before, during, or after a major event? Do not be afraid to ask!
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