A News 6 Orlando investigative report found hundreds of assisted living facilities have not properly prepared for hurricanes in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
New Florida state laws have mandated assisted living facilities and nursing homes to have an approved emergency power plan. Preventable deaths as a result of Hurricane Irma power loss spurred the legislation. 14 seniors passed away after a Hollywood Hills facility lost air conditioning.
While the law allows for an extension, News 6 found many facilities have no plan in place and do not have the necessary equipment to prevent power failures.
Some facility owners say parts were sent to Puerto Rico and Texas to help with their hurricane recovery, and the necessary equipment is now unobtainable. So, in the meantime facilities have had to prepare alternative cooling methods in case of another deadly hurricane.
Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration says all nursing homes are either in compliance with the law or have applied for an extension. However, the state’s assisted living facilities are far behind that pace.
The AHCA provides a database of nursing home and assisted living facility compliance with the new law. Many counties have a compliance rate lower than 70%, and no county has an assisted living facility compliance of 100%.
The Hollywood Hills tragedy occurred in Broward County, and according to the AHCA database over 20 assisted living facilities in the county are not compliant with the new law.
This is a cause for concern as a new hurricane season approaches and supplies are limited. Puerto Rico and Texas are also facing their own unique problems in recovery, but the growing pains seem to be steep for Florida’s elderly care industry.
Of the three hurricane-hit regions, Florida faced the most publicized senior living tragedy as a result of a 2017 hurricane. As a result, the state implemented stringent policies, but keeping facilities in check will be a new challenge.
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